North-East India – Security and Developmental Issues

AFSPA and the challenges ahead

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 2- Issues related to use of AFSPA

Context

The death of civilians in Nagaland in a security operation has revived the debate about AFSPA.

Demand for repeal of AFSPA

  • Some years ago, all the northeastern states had come together to demand the annulment of this Act.
  • That remained in the realm of yet another “demand”.
  • In 1997, after Nagaland’s most enduring insurgent outfit, the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN), led by Isak Swu and T H Muivah, first decided to talk peace with the Indian government, the Naga Peoples’ Movement for Human Rights (NPMHR) had approached the Supreme Court for revocation of the Act.
  • Enabling legislation: The apex court had then upheld its constitutionality and said it was an enabling legislation that confers minimum powers on the army to operate in situations of widespread internal disorder.

Way forward

  • Talk to the other groups: Many are wondering if the peace talks between the NSCN (IM) and the government of India now lie in tatters.
  • The media has focussed exclusively on the NSCN (IM) and ignored the other Naga National Political Groups (NNPGs), who have been brought on board because they are Nagaland-based and speak exclusively for Nagaland.
  • The NNPGs and the Gaon Bura Association of Nagaland doubt NSCN(IM)’s ability to bring lasting peace in Nagaland.
  • Since 2015, the Nagaland Gaon Bura Association, the apex body of Nagas which includes all the 16 recognised tribes and the NNPGs barring the NSCN (IM), have sent several memorandums to the government.
  • These representatives of the Naga people do not demand a separate flag or constitution because they understand these are tenuous demands.
  • These groups have also never raised the sovereignty issue.
  • The working committee of the seven NNPGs, roped in to join the peace talks, are also opposed to the idea of changing interlocutors as and when the NSCN (IM) decides.
  • Reconsider use of AFSPA: There is a need to reconsider the use of the army and AFSPA when killings have reduced considerably.
  • The apex body has specifically mentioned that they want to be delivered from the gun culture.
  • Check the misuse of FMR: Countering insurgency in the Northeast is fraught also because of the Free Movement Regime (FMR) between India and Myanmar.

Conclusion

The government need to reconsider the use of AFSPA and also focus on other measures to ensure peace and stability in these regions.

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