Nagaland civilian toll climbs to 19 after four more succumb to injuries; state against AFSPA
The Nagaland Cabinet in an 'urgent meet' on Tuesday decided to write to the Centre calling for a repeal of AFSPA in the state and also called off the 10-day Hornbill Festival
Four more people injured in protests, which erupted in Mon district of Nagaland following the killing of 15 civilians on Saturday, succumbed to their injuries. With this, the toll in Nagaland rose to 19, according to Rajya Sabha MP KG Kenye.
KG Kenye is a Rajya Sabha member from Nagaland and advisor to the Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio.
Earlier on 4 December, a contingent of the Indian Army’s 21 Para Special Forces killed six civilians and injured two others – all residents of Oting village in the state’s Mon district while they were returning home in a pick-up van after working at a coal mine.
According to official sources, the security forces apparently ‘mistook’ them for militants.
According to a statement issued by Dimapur-based 3 Corps of the army, the unit was on a counter-insurgency operation in the area following a tip-off on the likely movement of militants belonging to the NSCN (Khaplang).
Later, seven other civilians died after they were shot by that unit at Oting a little after the first incident. Two persons succumbed to their injuries from that shooting on 5 December.
The Nagaland Cabinet called for an 'urgent meeting' on Tuesday in which it passed two key decisions.
First, the Nagaland government will write to the Centre calling for a repeal of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). The second decision taken was to call off the Hornbill Festival, which sees tourists from all over the world visit the state.
On Monday, Nagaland chief minister attended the funeral of the 14 civilians killed by the security forces where he made the demand to repeal AFSPA from Nagaland.
“India is the largest democracy and this is a draconian law so, it should be removed from our country. There are many laws that can be handled but this law (AFSPA) has blackened the image of our country,” said Rio.
Meanwhile, a joint report by the state's Director General of Police (DGP) T John Longkumer and Commissioner Rovilatuo Mor has said that the army made no attempt to ascertain the identity of the civilians returning from work on a pick-up truck before shooting them in Nagaland's Mon district on Saturday.
Quoting eyewitnesses, the two top officials have said villagers found the Army's special forces trying to "hide" the bodies of six people by wrapping and loading them on a pick-up van with the intention of taking them to their base camp.
The Nagaland Police on its own filed an FIR against the 21st Para Special Force of the Army on Monday. The case was registered under Sections 302/307/34 of the IPC, relating to murder, attempt to murder and criminal act committed by several persons in furtherance of the common intention of all.
"Hence, it is obvious that the intention of security forces is to murder and injure civilians,the FIR added, urging authorities to take necessary action against the culprits.
With inputs from agencies
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Altogether 14 civilians in Mon district were killed on 4 and 5 December in three consecutive episodes of firing by security forces, the first of which has been claimed to be a case of mistaken identity
The killing of innocent civilians in Nagaland’s Mon by a squad of the Special Forces gives an occasion for introspection to prevent the same mistakes from being repeated