The government of Nagaland on Monday organised a consultative meeting with Tribal Hohos and organizations at the Rhododendron Hall in Chumoukedima.
The Chief Secretary of Nagaland, J Alam welcomed the members and briefed them that the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) was removed from certain areas of Nagaland after almost three decades.
AFSPA has been completely removed in three districts and partially removed in four districts of the state. Alam expressed hope that further progress will happen in the days to come.
Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio said that all the stakeholders had appealed to abolish the draconian law and the Central government has finally heard the appeals from the people.
The Nagaland government had formed a 22 member Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the incident in Oting in which civilians were gunned down by security forces in a case of mistaken identity, said Rio.
He congratulated the members of the SIT for their quick action in conducting the investigation and submitting preliminary reports. The contents of the report will be made public once it is submitted and a case is filed.
The CM added that the Centre had also formed its SIT and they have also submitted their report. He said that the total abolition of AFSPA from the state may take some time but the partial abolition is a test. The law may be reinstated if law and order is not maintained during this crucial period, Rio added.
The Nagaland CM also appealed for co-operation with the government to ensure that no such incidents happened. He appealed to all the stakeholders to seriously think about how to maintain law and order in the state.
As the Naga solution is for all the Nagas, CM Rio appealed that the Nagas should harbor a sense of unity and oneness and not be selfish in their demands. He thanked the CSOs, Tribal leaders, and student bodies for always cooperating and supporting the government.
The Chairman of UDA, T R Zeliang stated that partial lifting of AFSPA is an experimental phase with the end goal being complete removal AFSPA from the state. He appealed for joint responsibility and co-operation as the police would be handicapped without the support of the people.
Home Commissioner Abhijit Sinha said that the earlier notification on AFSPA issued in December 2021 had been withdrawn and a fresh notification has been issued on the same. Out of 72 Police stations, it has been withdrawn in 15.
This can be seen as the first step toward the total abolition of AFSPA in the state. He added that Tribal leaders, leaders of apex bodies, Hohos, CSOs, and student bodies will have to play an important role and will have to take responsibility for keeping the peace as AFSPA may be reinstated if law and order problems arose.
DGP John Longklumer said that once AFSPA is removed, the responsibility of law and order and maintaining peace will fall on the Nagaland Police. He informed that IRB personnel have been deployed at strategic locations to ensure the maintenance of law and order in the state.
Meanwhile, the Eastern Naga Students Federation appealed for total justice to be delivered to all victims of the Oting incident and that the state government should remind the government of India in this regard. ENSF is still in non-cooperation with armed forces and will continue to do so until justice is delivered.
Moreover, other tribal bodies also shared their opinions during the meeting.