The making of the modern day camp

Dr Asangba Tzüdir

The Central Government has declared the entire state of Nagaland as “disturbed area” for six month till 2020 December end. The opinion of the Central Government that ‘the whole of Nagaland is in such a disturbed and dangerous condition that the use of armed forces in aid of civilian power is necessary’ is once again stamped. However, for so many decades, within its underlying connotations, realities and more so contradictions vis-à-vis human life, the AFSPA has been ritualistically extended for another six months, a now normalized process which was initially supposed to be temporal measure. 

The continuous application of the phrase “disturbed and dangerous” means that “India’s Nagaland continues to be a threat to internal security of India,” and in the disguised framework of aiding civilian power, and locating the Act within a ‘State of Necessity’ to promulgate the exceptional Act and necessitate a ‘state of exception’ that has seen for more than 60 years gross violation of human rights thereby making it a legal fiction. Where, in the name of aiding civil powers, women have been barbarously raped, there have been inhuman tortures, and killings where charges would still be heaped upon the death more often to justify the killings. 

On another level, the very act of extending AFSPA whilst declaring a particular area as ‘disturbed and dangerous’ also connotes that the ‘state’ can decide whether its ‘citizens’ should live or die or be given a slow ‘death’. In juxtaposing the Act within human rights, it highlights the vulnerability of life under sovereign machinery of the State that licenses a life as one that can be killed or shut down. Thereby, on the whole, the gradual loss of existential meaning is not just a mere theoretical postulate but a fact. Where is the scope for those civilized principles of jurisprudence? What does it mean to have a right today? 

As legal fiction, ‘exceptions’ today seem to govern the very ‘rule of law.’ Thereby the underlying reality is that, Human Right becomes a mere theoretical postulate wherein a life can be simply reduced to a life that can be killed. And while it can be contested regarding the assertion that the ‘exceptional laws’ today has become the rule of law, it also presses upon an underlying theory of law which accounts for the existence of a realm of human life and activity that is not subjected to law or rights. On the contrary, it undermines rights, freedom, human dignity and moral values.  

In declaring the state of Nagaland as “disturbed and dangerous” it has only enacted Nagaland as a modern day concentration camp thereby reawakening the horrific experiences of the once Nazi ruled concentration camps as a praxis of the ‘state of necessity’ that becomes an exceptional space wherein the Camp inmates are stripped of all rights, humanity and their names replaced by a mere numbering waiting their death within their dying wish to die as humans. In the modern day, the camp can be taken to be any ‘spatial perimeter’ where killing is legitimated through ‘exceptional laws’ which negates all forms of rights.  It not only proves the paradigm of biopolitics but also the way in which the very ‘rule of law’ operates. 

Thus, the modern State brings a nexus between sovereign power and the human life wherein the body can be either made into a subject of the political or a condemned body of biopolitics where life ceases to have any value having detached beyond any discourse on rights, freedom, justice, ethics and morality. The end result is that the sovereign states can claim unaccounted power and the constitutional sanction to even, perpetrate, indefinitely, a regime of gross violation of human rights.  

Reflecting on the existential realities underlying AFSPA in relation to rights and freedom, the extension of AFSPA is not just a mere theoretical postulate but in reality, it carries the draconian elements of claiming unaccounted exceptional power over its own citizens in grouping them within the parameters of the modern day camp.


(Dr Asangba Tzudir contributes a weekly guest editorial to The Morung Express. Comments can be emailed to