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NESO holds consultative meet on AFSPA

DIMAPUR, Nov 21 – The North East Students’ Organisation (NESO) today organised a consultative meeting with student leaders in Nagaland at the Millennium Hotel, Kohima, soliciting youth opinion on the infringement of human rights resulting from the implementation of the infamous Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in various parts of the region since 1958.

Besides the NESO delegation, a host of student leaders including former and present leaders of the Naga Students’ Federation (NSF) and federating units attended the programme. During the meeting, it was discussed that AFSPA has brought about militarisation of the North East and innocent people have directly or indirectly felt the pains, as it crushes their indigenous identity as well as their right to live. The house also agreed that the time has come for the Government of India to pay attention to the North East and redress the social injustice meted to the people of this region through the “demeaning and unjust racist law” AFSPA.

In his keynote address, NESO secretary general Sinam Prakash highlighted that the organisation is holding similar consultative meets with the youth and student bodies of the Northeastern States, to share and exchange views on AFSPA and how to build constructive steps to urge the Centre to repeal the “draconian Act”. He stated that the Act is a wholly debateable legislation passed by the Parliament, which was initially enforced in the Naga Hills and has now spread over to different States of the Northeastern region, affecting generations of innocent lives, particularly children and women. The NESO leader pointed out that the claim is that the Act is to fight militants, whereas despite the presence of militant groups in other mainland Indian States, AFSPA is not enforced in those States except the NE. He lamented that this Act gives the authority to armed forces personnel to kill anyone on suspicion, rape our women, and they cannot be legally prosecuted for their actions. “We are human beings, we are also citizens of India…….What is the relation between rape and national security?” he questioned.

Noted Naga writer and social activist Kaka D Iralu, who was a resource person at the meet, gave a brief historical background on how the AFSPA was instituted. He said the Act was brought into existence “in the theatre of the killing fields of Nagaland in the 1950’s”, a case where he observes both the Indian Government and its armed forces are guilty of doing the opposite of what they are appointed to do.

Another resource person, Manipur-based youth NGO, REACHOUT coordinator, Kshetrimayum Onil alleged that the AFSPA is particularly designed for the Northeastern region.