A day after Home Minister Amit Shah announced that the Centre has decided to reduce "disturbed areas" under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in the states of Nagaland, Assam, and Manipur, the People’s Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) on Friday, 1 April, welcomed the decision saying that the present decision will bring “partial relief to the people of the Northeast."
Stating that a “piecemeal approach to the AFSPA does not provide justice to the people who have suffered historic losses,” the PUDR called for the Act to be repealed.
Moreover, PUDR has said, the government’s decision is not enough.
The press release said that as per news reports, the decision “will be effective in 15 police stations in seven districts of Nagaland; in 15 police stations in six districts of Manipur; and wholly in 23 districts and partially in one district in Assam.”
Writing on the killing of six coal miners at Nagaland’s Oting village in Mon district by army personnel on 4 December last year, the release reminded that the Union Home Minister Amit Shah had stated in Parliament that it was a case of “mistaken identity”.
The release said, “As the death toll had risen following public protests, a Special Investigation Team, SIT, was constituted to investigate the matter within a month. Despite demands from Naga civil society organizations, the findings of the SIT were not made public.”
Further, the Chief Minister of Nagaland had stated last month that the findings of the SIT can be made public only once the Union Government gives permission.
PUDR added that the decision is not enough and that the Union Government must make public the findings of the SIT as “the people have a right to know.”
Speaking on the draconian nature of the law, the release said:
“Over the years, civil society organizations have documented the horrifying human rights violations that have been perpetrated under the aegis of AFSPA. But what is even more grave is that the overboard provisions are made more deadly by the law’s requirement for prior sanction to initiate prosecution. AFSPA makes sanction from the Union Government mandatory for initiating prosecution, suit, or legal proceedings against any member of the armed forces for any act committed in exercise of its powers!"
In 2015, the PUDR said, "in an answer in the Rajya Sabha, it was revealed that of the 38 requests for sanction, from 1990 till 2015, sanction was turned down in 30 cases and 8 remained pending. Similarly in 2018, it was told while the Union Government had received requests for 50 cases from the government of Jammu and Kashmir, 47 were turned down and three remained pending.”
PUDR added that if the government is “serious about leading a dispute free Northeast, then it must give sanction for prosecution for the incident of wanton killing at Oting in December 2021, and in all previous cases.”
PUDR has further “hoped that the Union Government will give the people of Jammu and Kashmir similar relief through withdrawal of disturbed areas notification in select areas.”