Online security

India expands security law after failed ambush



NEW DELHI (AFP) – The Indian government yesterday extended a special law giving the armed forces sweeping powers in northeastern Nagaland state, days after a botched army ambush killed 14 people.

The killings sparked protests against the law that gives the armed forces sweeping powers to conduct raids, warrantless searches and open fire, with broad protection from prosecution.

But the six-month extension issued by India’s interior ministry said the government believed the state was “in a troubled and dangerous state.”

“Recourse to the armed forces to help civil power is necessary”, declared the government, justifying the extension of the law on the special powers of the armed forces (AFSPA).

Earlier this month, the Indian army shot dead six miners returning to their home in Mon district, near the Myanmar border, believing them to be insurgents.

Villagers carry children on their backs and stand near a village square in Oting, in the northeast Indian state of Nagaland. PHOTO: AP

Eight other people were killed by the troops when they were confronted by an angry mob. A soldier was killed and a military vehicle was set on fire.

Among those who later called for the repeal of AFSPA was the head of the state government, an ally of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling party.

“India is the biggest democratic country in the world. It is a draconian law. It should therefore be withdrawn from our country, ”Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio told reporters after the
murders.

The Indian military said in a statement on Wednesday that an investigative tribunal set up to investigate the incident “was proceeding expeditiously.”

Nagaland and other states in northeast India, linked to the rest of the country by a narrow land corridor, have experienced decades of unrest among ethnic and separatist groups.

While insurgent activity has declined in recent years, AFSPA governs military deployments in the state.