Civilian killings in Nagaland a case of ‘mistaken identity’, laments Amit Shah

Speaking at the Lok Sabha, union home minister Amit Shah said, “It (civilian killings) was a case of mistaken identity… an SIT has been directed to complete the probe within one month”
Union home minister Amit Shah speaks in the Lok Sabha during the winter session of Parliament in New Delhi on Monday. (PTI)
Union home minister Amit Shah speaks in the Lok Sabha during the winter session of Parliament in New Delhi on Monday. (PTI)
Published on Dec 06, 2021 04:41 PM IST
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ByMalavika Murali

Union home minister Amit Shah has expressed deep regret over the killings of 14 civilians during the weekend in Nagaland’s Mon district following a botched counter-insurgency operation, telling Parliament on Monday that it was a case of mistaken identity and the episode was being probed at the highest level.

He said a Special Investigation Team (SIT) has been directed to investigate the civilian deaths and report back in a month’s time.

Speaking at the Lok Sabha, Shah said, “It was a case of mistaken identity… an SIT has been directed to complete the probe within one month.”

Recalling Saturday’s episode, Shah said the army had information on the movement of extremists in Oting, Mon, on the basis of which the security personnel laid an “ambush” in the suspected area.

“Six out of eight people in the vehicle died. It was later found to be a case of mistaken identity. Two others who were injured were taken to the nearest health centre by the army. After receiving news of this, local villagers surrounded the army unit, set two vehicles on fire and attacked them,” Shah said.

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The home minister said that as a result of locals setting army vehicles on fire, a member of the army personnel died and several others were injured.

“Security forces had to resort to firing for self-defence and to disperse the crowd. This caused the death of seven more civilians… some others were injured. Local administration and police tried to bring the situation to normalcy,” he said.

The union home ministry has sent a secretary-level officer to Nagaland to get a clearer picture of the turn of events in order to avoid a similar episode.

Shah said the situation in Nagaland was tense, but “under control”. He expressed regret over the killings and the violence and offered condolences to the families of the deceased.

The episode was one of the deadliest escalations in recent times in the northeastern state. Nagaland has been rocked by insurgency for a long time and last weekend’s killings were one of many such escalations.

After Shah’s statement, opposition parties sought some time to respond to his statement, but Lok Sabha speaker Om Birla turned down the demand.

Congress MP Manickam Tagore said the Opposition was not satisfied with Shah’s statement and staged a walkout.

“The home minister came and gave a very short response, and when we asked for a clarification, we were not allowed [to have it],” he said.

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Wednesday, January 19, 2022