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AFSPA repeal cry echoes in United Nations

DIMAPUR, May 4 – Naga Peoples Movement for Human Rights (NPMHR) has strongly advocated for the repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) at the 14th Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York on April 30.

In his speech, NPMHR secretary general Neingolo Krome said, “I bring warm greetings from Kohima, the capital city of Nagaland, where the last battle of World War II was fought and which was followed by the formation of the United Nations to save humankind from the scourge of war”.

The NPMHR leader alleged that the AFSPA gives sweeping powers to the fecurity forces to ‘shoot to kill’ any person and ‘arrest without warrant’ any person, with full impunity in the Northeastern States and Jammu & Kashmir. This is now one of the most debated issues amongst various sections of the people in India for several years now.

“Against the backdrop of the imposition of this AFSPA in 1958 and the subsequent rampant and heinous violations of human rights committed on Nagas by Indian security forces with full impunity, the NPMHR filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court of India in 1982, challenging the very Constitutional validity of this Act which the Supreme Court took up for hearing only after 15 years in July 1997. However, after hearing the petition, the Supreme Court upheld the Act, saying ‘the Act in itself is good’”, added Krome.

Some State Governments have openly sounded their serious concerns and have suggested the lifting of this draconian law, the NPMHR leader stated. He mentioned that some Special Rapporteurs of the UN have visited some of the AFSPA-affected areas and strongly recommended for the repeal of this law which has already been highlighted in this forum during the 11th Session in May 2012.

“The Government of India too set up an Inquiry Committee called the Jeevan Reddy Committee in 2004 which submitted its report in 2005, strongly recommending for the repeal of this Act with a conclusion that the Act for whatever reason, has become a symbol of oppression, an object of hate and an instrument of discrimination and high-handedness”, Krome pointed out.

The NPMHR leader urged the Permanent Forum to take cognisance of this issue and prevail upon the Government of India to repeal this Act.