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Call for rethink on AFSPA in Nagaland

By KALYAN BAROOAH

NEW DELHI, Nov 8 � At a time when the Centre extended the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in Assam, former Home Secretary GK Pillai and Joint Secretary Shambhu Singh were engaged in an interesting debate over the logic of continuing the Act in Nagaland, which has not witnessed any major militant-related killings since the last couple of years.

Participating in a discussion on �North East India as Central Focus of India�s Look East policy and Internal Security�, held as part of the ongoing North East Festival, Pillai said, �We need a real rethinking on security in the North East. Why in Nagaland where there is no killing, the AFSPA is in force. It needs to be debated.�

The Disturbed Area should not be applied to Nagaland. However, even the State Government of Nagaland does not want the AFSPA to be withdrawn from the State, he observed.

Pillai�s remarks drew quite a few eyebrows because among the panellists were top officials of the Home Ministry, including Joint secretary (North East), Shambhu Singh and Centre�s interlocutor PC Haldar. Home Secretary Anil Goswami, who was also to speak, however, did not turn up.

Later, in his address, Shambhu Singh clarified that inter-tribe clashes in Nagaland were on the rise. At least five incidents had taken place and in one case weapons were gifted to a particular militant group.

The SP is under suspension and five criminal cases have been registered. The Centre wanted to hand over the case to National Investigation Agency (NIA) but the State Government did not agree and quickly filed charge-sheet, he added.

The Joint Secretary then went on to narrate that recently some NSCN cadres, armed to the teeth, attacked a police station and ransacked it and freed some of their cadres who were detained in the police station.

�If we don�t enforce AFSPA, then we will not be able to involve the security force at all,� he explained to Pillai.

�We don�t take great pleasure in doing it, but it is a compulsion. Our efforts will be to see that something is done to bring peace in the region,� he added.

The debate on the controversial Act also comes within days of the Amnesty International India criticising the Act and demanding its immediate repeal.

Amnesty International India recognizes the duty of nations to protect people from rights abuses and crimes, including those committed by armed groups. However, the AFSPA has been ineffective in meeting these goals, and has instead contributed to the creation of a �culture of impunity� for gross human rights violations in areas where it is operational, it said.

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Call for rethink on AFSPA in Nagaland

NEW DELHI, Nov 8 � At a time when the Centre extended the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in Assam, former Home Secretary GK Pillai and Joint Secretary Shambhu Singh were engaged in an interesting debate over the logic of continuing the Act in Nagaland, which has not witnessed any major militant-related killings since the last couple of years.

Participating in a discussion on �North East India as Central Focus of India�s Look East policy and Internal Security�, held as part of the ongoing North East Festival, Pillai said, �We need a real rethinking on security in the North East. Why in Nagaland where there is no killing, the AFSPA is in force. It needs to be debated.�

The Disturbed Area should not be applied to Nagaland. However, even the State Government of Nagaland does not want the AFSPA to be withdrawn from the State, he observed.

Pillai�s remarks drew quite a few eyebrows because among the panellists were top officials of the Home Ministry, including Joint secretary (North East), Shambhu Singh and Centre�s interlocutor PC Haldar. Home Secretary Anil Goswami, who was also to speak, however, did not turn up.

Later, in his address, Shambhu Singh clarified that inter-tribe clashes in Nagaland were on the rise. At least five incidents had taken place and in one case weapons were gifted to a particular militant group.

The SP is under suspension and five criminal cases have been registered. The Centre wanted to hand over the case to National Investigation Agency (NIA) but the State Government did not agree and quickly filed charge-sheet, he added.

The Joint Secretary then went on to narrate that recently some NSCN cadres, armed to the teeth, attacked a police station and ransacked it and freed some of their cadres who were detained in the police station.

�If we don�t enforce AFSPA, then we will not be able to involve the security force at all,� he explained to Pillai.

�We don�t take great pleasure in doing it, but it is a compulsion. Our efforts will be to see that something is done to bring peace in the region,� he added.

The debate on the controversial Act also comes within days of the Amnesty International India criticising the Act and demanding its immediate repeal.

Amnesty International India recognizes the duty of nations to protect people from rights abuses and crimes, including those committed by armed groups. However, the AFSPA has been ineffective in meeting these goals, and has instead contributed to the creation of a �culture of impunity� for gross human rights violations in areas where it is operational, it said.

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