Nagaland civilian killings: SIT submits preliminary report to state govt
The Nagaland government’s special investigation team (SIT) to probe the December 4 Oting killings has submitted a “preliminary report” to the state government on January 8, a police officer said on Monday, a day when hundreds joined a two-day 70-km walk seeking repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act.
“We have submitted a preliminary report because investigation is still going on, but we are trying to expedite the process,” a member of the Special Investigation Team investigating killing of 13 civilians in Oting village of Mon district said, asking not to be named. This person added that the final report should be ready soon.
HT learns that at least 50 people including local eye-witnesses and security personnel were examined. Although the SIT was given a month’s time to complete its investigation, people who are aware of the matter said expert reports from the ballistics and laboratories are still awaited and therefore, the probe team submitted a preliminary report.
The person cited above refused to divulge findings of the preliminary report , and declined comment on whether SIT has indicted army personnel for killing villagers.
On December 4, six villagers were killed by the army in an ambush that went wrong and targeted the wrong people (it was based on intelligence that spoke of insurgents taking the same route); soon after the villages (miners returning from work) were killed, other villagers surrounded the security personnel and torched their vehicle, resulting in the latter opening fire, killing seven more. A 14th person was killed in an attack on an army camp the following day.
The Union government has said the army mistook the miners for insurgents; the army has expressed regret for the incident and launched its own inquiry. .
Meanwhile, residents started a 70-km walk on Monday from Dimapur, the state’s commercial hub, to the state capital Kohima seeking repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act 1958 (AFSPA).
Demand for repeal of AFSPA, which gives sweeping powers to the security forces, a long-standing demand in the northeastern state has grown since the incident at Oting.
“We cannot allow AFSPA to continue to be enforced in Nagaland. Oting massacre will not be the last unless AFSPA is removed in toto,” said Kevitho Kera, one of the organizers of the march. The walk, which started from Dimapur on Monday morning and will end with submission of a memorandum to the Governor seeking repeal of the Act.
“We remember the victims of Oting as we walk… And also all the victims of other past atrocities,” Kera said.
On the constitution of a high-level committee by the Centre to examine the withdrawal of the AFSPA from Nagaland on December 26, he said, “We cannot keep on waiting for these reviews. A government which truly cares for its citizens have ways to immediately get it (AFSPA) repealed.”
The high-level committee is expected to submit its recommendations within 45 days.