Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio on Monday strongly demanded the repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Power) Act, 1958 as hundreds of people bid an emotional farewell to the 14 civilians killed by security forces in Mon district.
A shutdown was called in Kohima and different parts of the state to condemn the incident and demand repeal of the AFSPA.
In Shillong, Rio’s Meghalaya counterpart Conrad K. Sangma also demanded withdrawal of the act.
Paying tributes to the slain civilians, including six coal miners, in Mon town, Rio said that he discussed the incident with Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who has taken the matter seriously. He said that the Central and the state governments would together give compensation of Rs 16 lakh and Rs 1.5 lakh to the kin of the slain and injured civilians, respectively.
“We have been asking the government to repeal the AFSPA from the entire country. This is a draconian law. There are so many acts and provisions to deal with the insurgency. India is a great democratic nation. Such an act and its misuse damage the image of the country,” he told the media.
The AFSPA, in force in certain parts of Assam, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh besides Nagaland, allows the Army and paramilitary forces to conduct raids, and arrest anyone anywhere without prior notice or arrest warrant.
The Nagaland government, in view of Saturday’s incident, has decided to suspend all cultural performances of the famous Hornbill Festival on Monday as a mark of respect to the slain The 10-day fest began at Kisama Heritage Village, near Kohima, on December 1.
The influential Naga Students’ Federation has announced 5 days of mourning and urged the tribals not to participate in any celebration during the period.
Meanwhile, after ceremonial tributes, the bodies of the 14 killed people were handed over their families for last rites in a traditional manner.
Police and leaders of various Naga organisations, including Konyak Hoho and Oting Village Students’ Union (OVSU), said that eight coal miners were returning from Tiru coal mining area on late Saturday in a pick-up van when six of them shot dead by the security personnel due to “mistaken identity”, being thought as members of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Khaplang-Yung Aung.
Hearing of the incident, an angry mob rushed to the area and the Assam Rifles personnel fired in self-defence, killing seven more civilians and injuring 12.
An Assam Rifles jawan was killed in a mob attack after the incident, which took place between Oting and Tiru villages. Several hundred angry villagers on Sunday attacked the Assam Rifles camp in Mon and the jawans opened fire in the air, killing one more person and injuring several.
Of the 28 injured, the condition of six is stated to be critical.