Before criticising AFSPA, a full probe is necessary

News: Recently, the army operation resulted in the tragic death of 14 civilians in Nagaland, due to mistaken identity as insurgents. The incident occurred in a district inhabited by the Konyak tribe, who have generally been supportive of the government.

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What was the response to the incident?

The Army: Set up a court of inquiry headed by a Major General to probe the circumstances.

State government: Set up a special investigation team, which has been directed to complete its work within one month.

Read more: Nagaland’s people deserve neither AFSPA nor gun culture
How did security forces perform so far?

1. Security forces are performing an extremely difficult and complicated task in the midst of multiple insurgencies in the Northeast, 2. Security forces facing challenges for political mis-management since the mid-Fifties when trouble erupted in the Naga Hills.

About the Naga peace process
Read hereHow has the Naga peace process evolved?
Some global examples of such incidents

Global examples for such incidents include 1. In 2017 unintentional death of 14 civilians occurred while striking ISIS in Iraq, 2. In 2015, 13 civilians were killed in Syria due to the proximity to the target location, etc.

What is the present status of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA)?

In the last four years, the Government has already been gradually withdrawing AFSPA from different areas. The Act was withdrawn from Tripura in 2015 and Meghalaya in 2018 while in Arunachal Pradesh it is now restricted to the three districts of Tirap, Changlang and Longding.

At present, the whole of Assam, Nagaland and Manipur (except the Imphal municipal area) continue to be under AFSPA.

Read more: Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) – Explained, pointwise
What should be done?

The present incident needs to be carefully investigated, and if there was any mala fide or excessive use of force, the guilty must be punished.

The government must re-examine the Jeevan Reddy Commission report to repeal AFSPA. The government must consult with all stakeholders and a well-considered decision must be taken with the view of national security.

Source: This post is based on the article “Before criticising AFSPA, a full probe is necessary” published in the Indian Express on 11th December 2021.

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