Home Minister P Chidambaram said in the Lok Sabha on Thursday that changes in the the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) would be carried out only after consultations with everybody concerned. He was responding to a calling attention motion on the economic blockade of Manipur by some Naga organisation,moved by BJPs Bijoya Chakravarty.
The issue was difficult,he said,adding his ministry had proposed amendments to the Act but we have to have consultations with everybody before amendments are made. While acknowledging that Nagas inhabited parts of Manipur,Assam and Arunachal Pradesh,Chidambaran ruled out any break-up of these states. Efforts were on to ensure honour,dignity and equal rights to Nagas within the Constitution.
While Chidambaram measured every word given the sensitivity of both sides Nagas and people of Manipur to the issue,the BJP tried to address the majority Meitei community of Manipur. The party deliberately fielded Chakravarty,party MP from Assam,to articulate the sentiments of people of the North-East. Speaking Hindi with an Assamese accent,Chakravarty demanded dismissal of the Manipur government,liberation of NH 39 from extremists and a probe to uncover the people who were promoting the extremist groups,whose number had swollen to 42 from six.
Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj asked Chidambaram why had he or his junior minister have not visited Manipur despite an economic blockade of the state for 67 days. She asked if that would have been the case had it been a state of north or south India. It is not correct to say that the (central) government is not sensitive to North East, Chidambaram said. He pointed out that Home Secretary ( G K Pillai) as well as the Centres interlocutor for Naga talks ( R S Pandey) had been to Manipur.