Morung Express News
Dimapur/Kohima/Chandel/Tamenglong/Ukhrul | August 11
In a show of nonviolence and historical continuity, thousands of students all over the Naga areas in the Indian Union came together on Thursday to make it loud and clear, REPEAL AFSPA.
Young students, their teachers and leaders came together at rallies organized in various district headquarters to ask for a stop to living under the violence of the Disturbed Areas Act (DAA) and the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA), which was first enforced in the Naga areas in 1956.
The Naga Students’ Federation (NSF) in collaboration with Naga Peoples’ Movement for Human Rights (NPMHR), Naga Mothers’ Association (NMA), and Naga Hoho held the rally at Khuochiezie Kohima Local Ground.
Speaking at the rally, Neingulo Krome, Secretary General of NPMHR, said, “We as civil society organizations have exhausted almost every means of peaceful and democratic protest. Mahatma Gandhi said many years ago that; “an eye for an eye will make the whole world go blind”. But will it not be better for the whole world to go blind rather than watch innocent people vanish slowly under the piercing killing eyes of the Indian military?”
Krome wondered if the Government of India is aware that AFSPA is not only killing people but is also taking away the humanity of all Indian soldiers serving under the provisions of the Act.
Reminding the students of the recent Wuzu incident and the Pangsha border killings of unarmed civilians and cadres, NMA President Abeiü Meru stated that throughout history, Naga youths and children have been “wiped away” on “mere suspicion” through fake encounters.
Calling upon legislators and parliamentarians to be the voice of the Naga people without prejudice and fear, to stand up for justice and peace, the NMA President urged the Governor of Nagaland to “prove himself as a man of peace and non-violence and put to stop to the rampant violence going on in our areas, even under his very presence.”
Naga Hoho General Secretary, Mutsikhoyo Yhobu, spoke on the history of AFSPA. “As long as it continues to be imposed, crimes like killing of innocent civilians, fake encounters, tortures, unwarranted detentions and harassment of innocent people will go on. The time has now come for us to not only withdraw AFSPA but also bury it for good,” he said.
A memorandum signed by all four organizations was sent to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, PB Acharya, Governor of Nagaland and Chief Minister TR Zeliang. The memorandum demanded for the repealing of AFSPA, justice and accountability for victims of the Wuzu incident, recall of armed forces from Naga inhabited areas as well as immediate repeal of DAA and AFSPA alongside the early settlement of the Naga political issue.
Former NSF president and Editor of Ao vernacular daily, Tir Yimyim, K. Temjen Jamir called for a mass-based movement to urge the Government of India to repeal the AFSPA. Addressing a gathering organised by the Diphupar Nagaland Students’ Union at 4th Mile, Dimapur as part of the NSF rally against the AFSPA, Jamir called upon the citizens to take up the pen and flood the GoI and the Nagaland state government with letters.
Stating that there is not a single Naga family that has not been affected by the brutality of the Act, he said that no civilian can feel secure so long as the Act remains. “We’d like to tell the Government of India that we live in peace and we’d like to continue living in peace,” he said.
He also questioned the wisdom of the GoI as in enforcing the Act only in Naga inhabited areas of Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur.
DNSU president, Sungkum Aier, addressing a separate rally at the Clock Tower said that the government has the right and the duty to protect its citizens but not at the cost of the Right to Life. According to him, extending the Disturbed Area Act and the AFSPA only uncovers the GoI’s apparent insecurity. “We never asked for military protection. We want to live and learn freely as any citizen in a democratic country.” Representatives of the Naga Women Hoho Dimapur and the Naga Council Dimapur also addressed the assembly of students from over 40 schools and colleges at the Clock Tower.
The Repeal AFSPA rally was organized by the Zeliganrong Students’ Union, Manipur under the aegis of the NSF at the Apollo Ground in Tamenglong District Headquarters in Manipur.
More than 40 million people of India’s North East have been “forced to live under a military rule and an undeclared Emergency” for more than 60 years, said ZSUM Chairperson, Shangruh Gangmei, while introducing the Act to the students in attendance.
Explaining why DAA and the AFSPA take away the fundamental right to life, Gangmei brought to attention that the permission for enforcement of the Act is given by the Chief Minister of a State.
“The Indian State’s attempt to bring the people of the North East within the framework of the Constitution was increasingly being done through violent means that violated the letter and spirit of the Constitution. The opposition in Parliament had already criticized this law as a means to bring in an Emergency in violation of constitutional provisions,” said Seth Shatsang, President of the All Naga Students’ Association, Manipur (ANSAM), while addressing students at the rally.
Explaining the Act, he further stated that it grants army personnel impunity that encourages further lawlessness. The armies, Shatsang informed, are “well organized” along regional and ethnic lines; forces stationed in the Naga Areas “views the local population as aliens with little or no understanding of the various histories of their existence.”
Further, escalating tensions between different ethnic groups, arming of one over the other, cultivating informers and creating sarkari militants leading to mass killings as well as “secret killers” are a direct result of AFSPA,” he said.
The Tangkhul Katamnao Saklong (TKS) organized the protest rally against the AFSPA in Ukhrul District Headquarters today “as per the clarion call” by the NSF, NMA and Naga Hoho. On an unusually hot day in Ukhrul, the rally was attended by thousands of students.
The rallyists began from the two ends of the town and walked several kilometers, converging at the Tangkhul Naga Long Ground for a brief public meeting. The meeting moderated by Aso Chihui began with the President of the Tangkhul Naga Long, Weapon Zimik, exhorting the gathering and reminding them of their responsibilities as the future of the society. Hungyohung Hungyo, a senior member of the NPMHR spoke on the AFSPA and how it came to be promulgated in Naga inhabited areas.
Hungyo stated that this law is an “outright challenge” to the United Nations Human Rights laws.
A mass rally on the issue was held at the Chandel District headquarters, organized under the aegis of the NSF by the Naga Students’ Union Chandel (NSUC) and its federating units. It commenced from Mini Indoor Stadium via Japhou Bazar towards DC Lamkhai and proceeded back to Mini Indoor Stadium.
Large number of students’ leaders, Civil Society leaders and students from different schools in and around District Headquarter took part in the protest rally.
Several placards with anti AFSPA slogans like ‘Repeal the AFSPA,’ ‘Indian armies leave us alone,’ ‘AFSPA – License to kill the innocent public,’ ‘AFSPA – Murder of Human Rights,’ ‘AFPSA State Sponsored Terrorism,’ etc. were displayed during the rally.
Prior to the Mass Rally, a public meeting was also held at Mini Indoor Stadium where various Naga students’ leaders spoke about the Act and its effects on Naga inhabited areas.