GUWAHATI: Opposition political parties in Assam Monday lent their voices to the demand for repeal of Armed Forces (Special Power) Act (Afspa), 1958, which has gained renewed momentum following the death of 14 civilians in firing by security forces in a botched anti-insurgency operation in Nagaland. Raijor Dal president Akhil Gogoi condemned the firing in Mon district of Nagaland and demanded immediate arrest and punishment of all involved in it.
He also demanded that the National Investigation Agency be entrusted with enquiry into it and the incident be declared as a terrorist act.
In a video statement shared through social media, the lawmaker said, “We have been seeing the army committing such excess on innocent civilians in the north east region in the name of counter insurgency operations”.
The armed forces work under the cover of the Afspa in the region and do not have to face any court of law. It conducts its own internal enquiry and the people do not get to know whether a case reached its logical conclusion of not, Gogoi added.
“(The) Nagaland killings are a caricature of the Indian Govt. Revoke Afspa,” Gogoi also wrote on Twitter.
Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP) president Lurinjyoti Gogoi also took to the Twitter to vent his opposition of Afspa.
Condemning the Mon firing incidents, he wrote, “Its heartbreaking to see civilians being gunned down by the same forces that were meant to protect them. I demand that laws like #Afspa be repealed from the #NorthEast. #Nagaland”
The party’s general secretary, Jagadish Bhuyan, blaming Afspa for the incident tweeted, “It is past time for us to wake up and protest against this atrocity, or many more civilians will be killed in this manner!”
“The GOI should SCRAP THE Afspa and allow the NE people to live as dignified citizens of the country without any discrimination!” he added.
AIUDF MLA Ashraful Hussain too pitched for revoking Afspa.
“Real justice to the victims would be ending this type of killings with impunity. There should be collective voice from all sections against the draconian Afspa which allows such impunity,” the legislator tweeted on Sunday.
Veteran CPI(M) leader Hemen Das joined the opposition parties in their demand for scrapping Afspa.
In a tweet on Sunday he condemned the incident and wrote, “This is state terrorism. Scrap Afspa.”
The CPI staged a demonstration in front of its party office here on Sunday demanding revocation of the Act and justice for the victims and their families.
At least 14 civilians and one soldier were killed in firing by security forces in a botched anti-insurgency operation and retaliatory violence within 24 hours in Mon district of Nagaland since Saturday evening.
Afspa is in force in Assam, Nagaland, Manipur (excluding Imphal Municipal Council Area), Changlang, Longding and Tirap districts of Arunachal Pradesh and in areas falling within the jurisdiction of eight police stations of districts in Arunachal Pradesh bordering Assam.
Civil society groups, rights activists and political leaders of the region have been demanding the withdrawal of the “draconian” law for years, alleging excesses by security forces under the cover of the Act.