Agatha Sangma, member of the Lok Sabha representing the National People’s Party, on Tuesday called for a repeal of the harsh Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) functional in India’s northeastern states. Speaking against the context of the deaths of civilians in Nagaland after a security operation went awry over the weekend, Sangma pointed attention to innocents facing consequences of “draconian laws” like AFSPA.
The 41-year-old was addressing the Parliament during Zero Hour and gave an adjournment motion notice over the demand to repeal AFSPA.
“It is time the elephant in the room be addressed,” she said, before going on to quote poet Maya Angelou: “I come as one but I stand as 10,000.”
Six civilians, identified as coal mine workers, were killed by the Indian Army’s elite 21 Para Special Forces in Mon near the Myanmar border Saturday. Retaliatory violence over the next few hours left a total of 15 people, out of which 14 were civilians and one was security personnel, dead.
The Army in a statement expressed deep regret over the incident and claimed the operation they carried out was “based on credible intelligence of likely movement of insurgents.” More here.
The killings have been nationally condemned by various political parties, with the Nagaland Chief Minister too among the people calling for a repeal of AFSPA. CM Neiphiu Rio said the Act has “blackened” the country’s image.
“It also reminds us of an incident that took place in Manipur in 2000, in Imphal, which is known as the Malom massacre in which over ten civilians were shot dead and it prompted a 28-year-old Irom Sharmila to go on 16-year-long hunger strike,” Sangma said.
She further added that AFSPA, originally implemented to counter insurgency in northeast India, has not been able to fulfil its goal but has instead caused civilians to be “unfairly tortured, raped and killed.”
Who Is Agatha Sangma? Key Points To Know
Sangma was brought up in Meghalaya and is the daughter of PA Sangma, former Chief Minister of the state. She holds a degree in law and first stepped into politics in 2008 when she was elected to the Lok Sabha in a by-election. Since the start, she has held a place among the youngest parliamentarians in the country.
She was previously on the seat of the Minister of State for Rural Development for three years until 2012. Sangma has formerly been associated with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). Her current NPP is affiliated with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Image: The Telegraph