Joining the widespread call for the repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act 1958, Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma on Monday took to Twitter to say that the draconian law must be repealed. Sangma's party, the NPP, is an ally of the BJP. The call for the repeal of AFSPA has intensified in the northeastern region following a botched anti-insurgency operation over the weekend in Mon district of Nagaland, which left 14 civilians dead.
However, the demand to repeal AFSPA has been widespread across Civil society groups, rights activists and political leaders of the Northeast region for years. They allege excesses by security forces with impunity provided by the provisions of the Act. The Act offers special powers to armed forces deployed in areas categorised as 'disturbed'. The AFSPA is in force in Assam, Nagaland, Manipur (excluding Imphal Municipal Council area), Arunachal Pradesh's Changlang, Longding, Tirap districts and areas falling within the of eight police stations at the Assam border.
The state Congress has also come forth supporting the CM's opinion. Replying to the CM's tweet, Congress MLA Ampareen Lyngdoh tweeted, "We must go all out to demand immediate repeal of this draconian oppression on our people. Kindly convene a consultation at the earliest."
"We call upon the Government of India to reign in their Armed Forces if they really wish the peace to prevail in the Region as incidents like these will only bring instability, which is not a good sign for the region as a whole," Hynniewtrep Youth Council (HYC) general secretary Roykupar Synrem said.
"Steps should be taken towards building a peaceful North-East and the correct and necessary steps towards achieving full peace is to withdraw or Repeal the AFSPA from the Region completely as well as deployment or stationing Armed Forces to the bare minimum," he added.
"The Government of India should immediately revoke the monstrous AFSPA and instead formulate laws to safeguard and protect the rights and existence of the indigenous inhabitants of NE India," the Khasi Students Union said. KSU President Lambok Marngar further called for stringent action against the "erring and bloodthirsty" personnel involved in the civilian killings in Nagaland.