SIT meets soldiers in Nagaland firing case
The team, comprising six members, recorded the statements at the Rainforest Research Institute at Jorhat in Assam, said army officials familiar with the matter.
GUWAHATI: A special investigation team (SIT) set up by the Nagaland government on Thursday collected the statements of army officers and jawans who killed 14 civilians in a botched operation in the state’s Mon district earlier this month.
The six-member SIT team recorded the statements at the Rainforest Research Institute at Jorhat in Assam, said army officials familiar with the matter. The proceedings are expected to continue on Friday.
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The army and Nagaland Police refused to comment but people aware of developments said that the SIT collected the statements of seven to eight army personnel, including two officers who were allegedly part of the shooting at Oting in Mon district of Nagaland on December 4-5.
“It is an ongoing (investigation). I can’t comment on it,” stated Nagaland director general of police T. John Longkumer. It was not clear whether the SIT interrogated the army personnel or only recorded their prepared statements.
The 21 Para Special Force, which was part of the operation at Oting, are stationed in Jorhat. Nearly two dozen of its personnel are believed to have been part of the December 4 incident, when six villagers returning home from a local coal mine were shot dead, allegedly on suspicion of them being terrorists.
Soon after the incident, angry villagers reached the spot and set ablaze two security vehicles, sparking off another round of firing by forces to “control the situation” in which at least six villagers and one soldier died. On the following day, a 14th civilian was killed and at least 35 people were injured in police firing when an angry mob went on a rampage and vandalised an Assam Rifles camp.
The development came a day after the army court of inquiry (CoI) -- which is probing the incident -- recorded the statements of two witnesses at Tizit. The team headed by a major general also visited the site of the shooting.
A local resident, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that many witnesses and villagers from Oting refused to meet the army team. The army team was at the Tizit police station for about two hours but only two witnessed visited the facility to record their statements, the resident added.