- Special Investigation Team (SIT) set up to probe the killings of 14 civilians during an operation of the security forces in Nagaland has to submit final reports on the investigation within a month.
- The civilian killings have reignited the debate on the repeal of AFSPA
- Union Home Minister Amit Shah states “mistaken identity” as cause for killlings while addressing the Parliament.
Nagaland witnessed the killing of 14 civilians amid a security operation last week sparking questions on the “intent” of the security forces and fresh demand for the repeal of AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Powers Act). The Centre, on Monday, expressed sincere repentance and assured that the situation is being closely monitored by the Government.
Union Home Minister while offering deepest condolences to the families of the bereaved, communicated to the Parliament that an SIT (Special Investigation Team) established to probe the regrettable episode has been ordered to conclude the investigation within a month’s duration. The firing was a repercussion of an errorneous identity, Mr Shah added.
The reason why the Nagaland killings have rekindled the debate on repeal of AFSPA is on account of the fact that the law gives massive discretionary powers to the Army in the event of maintaining law and order in a disturbed area.
Unfolding the series of events that followed, Shah said that the Army was informed about the insurgent movement in the Mon region of Nagaland in response to which the 21 Para Commando unit laid an ambush.
Despite receiving the signals to halt, a vehicle that continued to speed away was subjected to open fire killing six out of the eight occupants of the vehicle. Shah referred to this as a case of mistaken identity. On discovering the dead bodies, a scuffle broke out between the villagers and the security personnel where the Army again open fired at them resulting in the death of seven additional villagers as confirmed by an eyewitness.
With constant pressure from the Opposition to make revelations on the situation and with incessant attempts to stave off the incident from turning into a subject of political embarrassment affecting the Naga Peace Accord, Shah led Union Government asserted on closely monitoring the situation and implementing requisite measures.
PM Modi also conducted a meeting comprising senior cabinet ministers like Amit Shah and Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman for assessing the situation in addition to National Security Advisor, Ajit Doval who also briefed Modi in the Parliament.
Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, while addressing the media ahead of attending the funeral services in the Mon district of Nagaland, urged the removal of AFSPA referring to it as a “black spot” in the country’s image. Deeply grieved by the incident, Meghalaya CM Conrad Sangma also sought the reversal of the AFSPA.
Narrating the escalation of the casualties, Amit Shah said that the Army was surrounded by the local villagers who incinerated two vehicles and assaulted them leading to the death of one Security Force Personnel. The Company Operating Base (CoB) of Assam Rifles was attacked by a mob of roughly 250. The mob set CoB’s building on fire following which the army troops had to open fire resulting in the killing of one civilian while injuring another.
A Major General-rank officer will spearhead the Court of Inquiry announced by the Army to probe the killings of the 6 civilians on the eve of Saturday.
A mass funeral was announced by the Konyak Union for the 13 civilians who died on Saturday. However, the funeral was moved to Monday without any clarity leading to agitation among the crowd who resorted to vandalising public property, pelting stones and setting three buildings ablaze. The Assam Rifles Personnel blank fired at the mob which had swollen to 600-700. The encounter left one person dead and six others with bullet injuries.