Thirteen villagers and a soldier were killed at an Indo-Myanmar border district in Nagaland on Saturday as a counter-insurgency operation went horribly off-script. On Sunday, a civilian was killed in firing by the Assam Rifles when an angry mob stormed into their camp in Mon town and set a part of their camp on fire.
The Nagaland police have taken a suo moto FIR against 21 Para special forces of the Indian Army in connection with a counter-insurgency operation that led to the deaths of 14 innocent villagers. An Army jawan also lost his life when the situation quickly deteriorated out of control. The police have said that the special Army unit didn’t inform police nor did they take any police guide for the counter-insurgency operation in the Mon district that borders Myanmar.
Dr Bhalchandra Mungekar, Former MP said, “I most strongly condemn the brutal and cold-blooded murder of 13 civilians in Nagaland making a blunder of treating them as Naxalites. The home minister, Mr Amit Shah must immediately sack the concerned officers.”
Sushmita Dev, West Bengal MP, TMC said, “What has happened in Nagaland is extremely worrying, the central forces have killed civilians. Firstly, it is a total intelligence failure. Secondly, after the incident, the local people are trying to say that they tried to cover up the whole thing. These are legitimate citizens of Nagaland, legitimate hamlets of Nagaland. This incident has disturbed the entire peace of Nagaland. In 1997, there was a peace accord signed, and there was a ceasefire. The local people of Nagaland are questioning this incident, they’re questioning the entire application of AFSPA, and the recent increase in the power of the BSF is also questioned.”
“Today when the army or the central forces do an operation, local police does not know. So how do you protect citizens? This is going to put AFSPA under question. This is going to put the entire policy of the BJP government in question,” she further added.
When asked about AFSPA, Dev said, “AFSPA is a very sensitive issue. It is external security vs internal security. So, it is very simple if such incidents happen, then AFSPA will be questioned. I knew this would happen, and I believe that HM Amit Shah should review the situation.”
Merentoshi Jamir, spokesperson of Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP), “The Para Commandos accidentally shot and killed 13 civilians on the fourth of December. And we have had an unfortunate loss of lives yesterday. This is something very unprecedented, especially from the unit like the para commandos making the mistake of killing unarmed civilians. The situation right now is calm. But I can’t say it is fully alright. Because there is a lot of tension around. We don’t know in the next few days what will happen. We are just observing as of now.”
When asked about AFSPA, he added “It should be repealed. Today we are talking about a breakthrough in the Indo Naga political talks, where the government of India has also said that it is coming to a conclusion. In such a scenario, when we’ve had peace for so many years. it is not necessary that we the AFSPA in Nagaland. When we declare it as a disturbed state when everything is so peaceful, it is not fair. And it causes only tension amongst the people. And especially when the Naga talks are moving so peacefully. It will be a good gesture for the government of India to say that show that, we are truly trying to solve the issue and therefore we are repealing, revoking the AFSPA from Nagaland. Because that is what we want. AFSPA may be very good at certain times. But it is not good for the people. Because it gives Army the power to take the law into their hands. This is not how a democracy works.”
Adding further he said, “We hope for the support of the people of India, to be with us. We are going through a very difficult period when so many youngsters have lost their lives unnecessarily. In today’s world, this type of violence is not welcomed. And that too from people who are there to protect and serve people.”
The truck had eight people on board — six of them were killed on the spot; two others died on the way to the hospital. It is believed that all those on the truck were local coal miners. Sources said no arms or ammunition were recovered from the truck. Soon after, hundreds of villagers — armed with stones and machetes — attacked the army team, sources said. The army team opened fire in self-defence, in which at least five 5 villagers were killed and several others were injured, sources said.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Monday told in the parliament that the Centre regrets the death of 14 civilians in a counter-insurgency operation of the army in Nagaland on Saturday that went horribly wrong. A Special Investigation Team (SIT) would inquiry into the incident and give its report in one month, he said.
“The situation is tense but under control,” Shah said in a statement on the incident, speaking over opposition slogan-shouting.
“The Government of India sincerely regrets this unfortunate incident in Nagaland and expresses its deepest condolences to the families of those who have lost their lives,” he said.
FIR by the state police
The FIR reads as “It is to be noted that at the time of the incident there was no police guide nor security forces did make requisition to the police station to provide police guide for their operation. Hence it is obvious that the intention of security forces is to murder and injure civilians, “At around 1530 hours, coal mine labourers of Oting village were returning to their native village Oting from Tiru in a vehicle Bolero pick up. On reaching at Longkhao between Upper Tiru and Oting village, security forces blankly opened fire at the vehicle without any provocation resulting in the killing of many Oting villagers and seriously injuring many others (sic),” the FIR added.
The Naga Students’ Federation (NSF) has called a morning 6 am to 12-noon total bandh across the state today. While a dawn to dusk bandh has been called by Eastern Nagaland Peoples’ Organisation (ENPO). The Army, in a statement yesterday, had expressed deep regrets over the “unfortunate loss of lives” in a security operation that went awry, adding that the matter will be investigated at the “highest level”.
A public gathering of more than five people at a time has been banned in the Mon district, and movement of all vehicles of non-essential nature, including commercial vehicles, has been prohibited under section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPc).