GUWAHATI: Even as the Centre constituted a committee to study if the contentious Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) could be lifted, partially or completely, from Nagaland, the public in the state will embark on a two-day march from Monday demanding the complete withdrawal of the “draconian” law.
The “March against AFSPA” will commence from commercial hub Dimapur and hold at Piphema on the way for the night. It will resume the next day and continue till state capital Kohima where a memorandum will be submitted to the Governor.
“The gun-toting soldiers cannot be given a free hand in our land or anywhere. Under the shield of AFSPA, a lot of atrocities have been committed. The massacre of civilians at Oting is a reminder of how this diabolical act works,” Kevitho Kera, a social activist and businessman who will take part in the proposed march, told The New Indian Express.
“We also remember the victims of all past incidents of atrocities by the security forces. The public is angered by the Oting incident. A partial lifting of the AFSPA will not solve the problem,” he said.
The activist said anyone could join the march anywhere and withdraw at any time. It is not being organised by any organisations but by the public. The public has come to the forefront, Kera said.
People are coming closer to one another, thanks to a banner on the proposed march that has gone viral on social media.
“The government has come up with new COVID rules, asking us to limit the number of participants to 200. But we are getting an overwhelming response from the public. We cannot predict but we are expecting a huge turnout. People even from outside Nagaland want to join us,” the activist said.
The Piphema Village Council will arrange the accommodation of the participants at a school, he added.
The organisers requested the participants to listen to authorities and not indulge in any violent act as it is a peaceful march. They were also requested not to vent their ire by heckling or harassing military personnel on duty or disrupt the movement of any military convoy.
The participants will carry their sleeping bags, toiletries, torches, necessary gadgets and accessories. An ambulance will follow them for any exigency.
Earlier, the Nagaland government had constituted a special investigation team (SIT) to probe the Oting incident. The SIT missed the one-month deadline of completing the investigation on January 5. Official sources said the probe was still continuing.