14 die in security operation in Nagaland; CM calls for high-level probe - Hindustan Times
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14 die in security operation in Nagaland; CM calls for high-level probe

ByAlice Yhoshü
Dec 05, 2021 08:29 PM IST

Thirteen people died, including an Army jawan, in an operation by security personnel in Nagaland’s Mon district on Saturday, police officials said

Thirteen people died, including an Army jawan, in an operation by security personnel in Nagaland’s Mon district on Saturday, police officials said. The Army personnel were conducting an operation in the area after receiving inputs on the movement of militants of Yung Aung faction of proscribed outfit NSCN (K) but mistakenly fired at a ferry van carrying local coal miners, officials said.

Kohima : An Indian army soldier stands guard on a highway on the outskirts of Kohima, capital of northeastern Nagaland state, India, Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021. Angry villagers burned army vehicles in protest after more than a dozen people were killed by Indian army soldiers who mistakenly believed some of them were militants in Nagaland state, along the border with Myanmar. (AP)
Kohima : An Indian army soldier stands guard on a highway on the outskirts of Kohima, capital of northeastern Nagaland state, India, Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021. Angry villagers burned army vehicles in protest after more than a dozen people were killed by Indian army soldiers who mistakenly believed some of them were militants in Nagaland state, along the border with Myanmar. (AP)

Another civilian was killed while a few others were injured in Mon town on Sunday when security personnel opened fire to fend off an angry mob that had vandalized the camp of 27th Assam Rifles camp after Saturday’s incident, officials said.

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“In the two firing incidents, in all, 13 civilians were killed,” said a local police officer, who was not willing to be quoted considering the sensitivities involved.

Army personnel reportedly fired at a ferry van carrying local coal miners to Oting village from Tiru on Saturday late evening. Police officials said the pick-up truck was ferrying Oting villagers who were working in a coalfield near Tiru. The coal miners normally return home on Saturday and report back to work on Monday, the official said.

The vehicle was allegedly fired on by Army personnel who were conducting an operation in the area after receiving inputs on the movement of militants of Yung Aung faction of proscribed outfit NSCN (K), the police officer quoted above said. Mon shares a porous international border with Myanmar, where the Yung Aung faction of NSCN (K) is based.

Hearing about the incident, police said, angry villagers reached the spot and attacked Army personnel in which a jawan lost his life. They also reportedly set ablaze two security vehicles, sparking off another round of firing by security forces to “control the situation”, police said.

The injured and the dead bodies were said to have been shifted to Mon district headquarters.

“The security forces have suffered severe injuries in the incident including one soldier who succumbed to the injuries,” the headquarters of 3 Corps, the Army unit conducting the operation, said.

Arson was reported from different parts of the district on Sunday in which two government vehicles were burnt and protest marches were held. The Eastern Nagaland People’s Organisation (ENPO), the apex body of six Naga tribes of five districts including Mon, directed locals not to participate in the Hornbill festival, the state’s biggest festival that started last week.

Nagaland home commissioner Abhijit Sinha said section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure has been imposed in Mon district and internet services have been suspended “till further orders”. Local police are conducting a flag march in the area to prevent any other untoward incident, he said.

The state government and the army have both constituted inquiry teams to probe into the incident.

In a statement, the Army said a court of inquiry has been ordered and “deeply regretted” the incident. The Army said the unfortunate loss of lives is being investigated at the highest level.

Chief minister Neiphiu Rio promised a high-level probe into the incident and appealed to all sections of the society to maintain peace as he returned to Kohima from New Delhi after the incident.

“The unfortunate incident leading to the killing of civilians at Oting, Mon is highly condemnable. Condolences to the bereaved families & speedy recovery of those injured. High level SIT will investigate & justice delivered as per the law of the land. Appeal for peace from all sections,” he tweeted.

Union home minister Amit Shah also tweeted, “Anguished over an unfortunate incident in Nagaland’s Oting, Mon. I express my deepest condolences to the families of those who have lost their lives. A high-level SIT constituted by the State govt will thoroughly probe this incident to ensure justice to the bereaved families.”

The Eastern Nagaland People’s Organisation (ENPO), the apex body of six Naga tribes of five districts including Mon, has vehemently condemned the “barbaric act” of the security forces. The ENPO has requested all its six (Konyak, Khiamniungan, Phom, Sangtam, Yimkhiung and Chang) tribes to abstain from participating in the ongoing Hornbill Festival with immediate effect till the funeral rites of the deceased are completed, and directed them to hoist black flags at their morungs (traditional huts) at the main festival site- The Naga Heritage Village Kisama.

The Konyak Union Kohima, whose office in Mon Town was also vandalised, has already announced to abstain from any further participation at the ongoing festival citing atrocities perpetrated by the security forces at Oting village.

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