Amidst the ongoing tension in Nagaland, Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma on Monday demanded the repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). In a tweet, Sangma wrote, "AFSPA should be repealed."
This comes a day after security forces gunned down 14 civilians in Nagaland in three consecutive firing incidents.
On late Saturday evening, a special unit of the Indian Army mistakenly opened fire at a pick-up van carrying coal miners from the Tiru area to their village in Oting about 15 km away, killing six villagers. Soon after, a village search party found their bodies and attacked the soldiers, leading to firing in which seven more civilians died. A soldier was also killed.
On Sunday, another civilian was killed in Mon district which is dominated by the Konyak tribe when security forces tried to repeal a mob attack on an Assam Rifles camp. At least 20 people have been injured in the ambush and in the violence that followed.
The Army on Sunday deeply regretted the civilian deaths and constituted a court of inquiry into the circumstances that led to the tragic outcome.
On Sunday, Sangma said that he was deeply saddened by the loss of lives in Oting village. “My deepest condolences to the bereaved families. I pray for the speedy recovery of those injured and peace to be restored,” Sangma wrote on Twitter.
The AFSPA is an act of the Parliament that gives power to the army and central forces deployed in "disturbed areas" to kill anyone after giving due warning if they feel they are acting in contravention of the law. The Act further provides that if "reasonable suspicion exists", the armed forces can also arrest a person without a warrant; enter or search premises without a warrant; and ban the possession of firearms.
The AFSPA is effective in the whole of Nagaland, Assam, Manipur (excluding seven assembly constituencies of Imphal) and parts of Arunachal Pradesh. It was withdrawn from Meghalaya in 2018.