India declares entire Nagaland ‘disturbed area’ as peace talks remain deadlocked over separate flag & constitution issues

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has declared the entire state of Nagaland as a “disturbed area” for six more months under the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA), 1958.

According to an MHA release issued on Wednesday, “Whereas the Central government is of the opinion that the area comprising the whole of the State of Nagaland is in such a disturbed and dangerous condition that the use of armed forces in the aid of civil power is necessary,” reported the Hindustan Times.

The notification further said, “Therefore, in the exercise of the powers conferred by Section 3 of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 (No 28 of 1958) the Central Government hereby declares that whole of the State of Nagaland to be ‘disturbed area’ for a period of six months with effect from 30th December 2020 for the purpose of the said Act.”

Nagaland had been declared a “disturbed area” in June this year. The AFSPA has been in effect in the North East since 1958, while Nagaland became an Indian state in 1963 and has thus remained under AAFSPA for close to sixty years. AFSPA allows security forces to conduct operations anywhere and arrest anyone without a warrant. It has been condemned by many rights groups and most famously by human rights defender Irom Sharmila for its misuse by security forces to commit excesses, abuse, and human rights violations.

In fact, scrapping the AFSPA was one of the key demands of the draft framework agreement to maintain peace in the region signed between the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak Muivah) and the government interlocutor RN Ravi in 2015. However, the act was not withdrawn.

Though peace talks are at an advanced stage, the demand for a separate flag and Constitution for Nagaland remain contentious issues.

Source-SI, 2 June 2021

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