Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio on Monday demanded the repeal of Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 from the state, where 14 civilians were killed by security forces in Mon district in an anti-insurgency operation fiasco and said the state too has special powers.
Discussions and deliberations need to be held on the purpose of imposing AFSPA and how to revoke it, Rio said during the public funeral of the 14 daily wage earners of a coal mine, who were shot dead by security forces on Saturday at Oting village on their way home from work.
Article 371(A) of the Constitution grants special provisions to Nagaland. It states that no Act of Parliament shall apply to Nagaland unless its legislative assembly decides so by a resolution.
After the funeral, the chief minister tweeted 'Nagaland and the Naga people have always opposed #AFSPA. It should be repealed.'
Paying his last respects to the innocent miners who were killed at Oting, Rio said at the funeral service, 'Their sacrifices will not be forgotten. We are together in this. We stand in solidarity with the people.'
He asserted that since the security forces directly fired upon the civilians without even stopping them for identification, severe action will be initiated against those involved.
'They (the miners) have not sacrificed their lives for India but for the Nagas,' he said and announced ex gratia of Rs five lakh to the next of kin of each of those killed in the incident and Rs 1 lakh to the injured.
Rio also said that Union Home Minister Amit Shah has announced an ex gratia of Rs 11 lakh and government job to the families of each victim.
The funeral service of the miners was held at the Mon headquarters helipad ground and was attended by various tribal organisations under the aegis of the Eastern Nagaland People's Organisaiton and Konyak Union, the apex tribal body of the district.
Deputy Chief Minister Y Patton, leader of Naga People's Front legislature party T R Zeliang, state cabinet ministers and legislators were present at the funeral service besides Rio.
Conveying his solidarity with the victims and the people of eastern Nagaland over the killing, Rio said that he has informed Shah that the situation in the state is 'fine' but it was the Army which has committed a 'blunder by killing the innocent civilians'.
He said, 'AFSPA give powers to the Army to arrest civilians without any warrant, raid houses and also kill people, but there is no action against the security forces ... They (the Army) have created a law and order situation.'
Rio told the mourners that Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and the Commander of 3 Corps, Lt Gen J P Mathew have assured him of a thorough probe and punishment of those responsible as per the law.
The chief minister said candlelight processions were held across the state in solidarity with the people of the eastern Nagaland and th government suspended the ongoing annual Hornbill Festival at Kisama.
Solidarity messages and condolences were read out at the funeral by various organizations and civil societies and many of those who were present carried banners and placards demanding justice for the 'brutal murder'.
After the funeral service the bodies of the 14 civilians were taken to their respective villages for burial.
A common memorial stone will be erected at Mon district headquarters in their honour, officials said.