Thousands protest in Meghalaya against court’s AFSPA order


Shillong: Thousands of people on Friday hit the street in insurgency-ravaged districts of Garo Hills region in western Meghalaya protesting against the high court order asking the government to enforce the use of the stringent Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act to control the deteriorating law and order situation there.

The protest marches which were held at Tura, the district headquarters of West Garo Hills and Williamnagar, the district headquarter of East Garo Hills, witnessed public opposition to enforcing the controversial act in the region which is plagued with series of kidnappings and killings.

Various speakers at both the rallies were of the opinion that AFSPA is not the solution to the burgeoning insurgency problem in Garo Hills as the same law enforced in other states has not been able to restore normalcy.

“AFSPA is not the solution to bringing peace and only a united public movement can succeed. Once AFSPA is imposed it would be very difficult for the government to withdraw it and atrocities on innocent civilians will take place since the army will operate with impunity and without having to answer to the civilian authorities,” said Garo Hills State Movement Committee chairman, Nikman Ch Marak.

“If the army comes it will be ominous for all. It is the common people who will be the target for their excesses. No state where AFSPA has been imposed has seen a militancy decline but has always recorded human right violations,” he said.

Raising the issue of the politician-militant nexus, Garo Student’s Union (Interim Body) president Zikku Balgra N Marak strongly demanded a Central Bureau of Investigation probe on the issue while urging the central government not to impose AFSPA in Garo Hills.

Pointing out that the threat of militancy had to be neutralized in the interest of Garo tribesmen, he said the unity of people was paramount to restore the lost peace in Garo Hills.

On Tuesday, the Meghalaya High Court has directed the union home secretary and defence secretary to consider the use of AFSPA, and deployment of paramilitary forces to control deteriorating law and order in Garo Hills.

It also directed the principal secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office to place the order before Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his perusal and consideration.

The high court order came following the recent kidnapping and killing of Intelligence Bureau officer Bikash Kumar Singh and businessman Kamal Saha by militants of the A’chik Songna An’pachakgipa Kotok and abduction of government official Jude Rangku T Sangma by the Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) militants. Sangma was released on Tuesday.


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