A tribal union in Nagaland has submitted a memorandum to the government demanding immediate action against members of the security forces responsible for the killing of 14 civilians in the state’s Mon district over the weekend, NDTV reported on Tuesday.
The Konyak Union, which represents the Konyak Naga tribe – to which most of the killed civilians belonged – also demanded that the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, or AFSPA, be repealed in all North East states.
The AFSPA gives the military sweeping powers to search and arrest, to open fire if it deem it necessary for “the maintenance of public order”, and to do so with a degree of immunity from prosecution.
On Monday, the members of Opposition demanded that AFSPA be repealed as Home Minister Amit Shah told Parliament that the Centre regrets the killing of the 14 civilians in Nagaland. The demand to repeal the law was also placed by Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio and his Meghalayan counterpart Conrad Sangma.
Meanwhile, the Konyak Union has requested that an independent inquiry committee be set up to investigate the killings.
It has also demanded that two members of the Special Investigation Team, which was constituted on Sunday, should be from Naga civil society.
The Konyak Union, in its memorandum to the government, said it wants all soldiers involved in the killings to be punished, following which it has requested details of the punishment to be displayed for the public within 30 days.
Chemwang Konyak, whose son Shomwang Konyak was among the 14 civilians killed in the firing, said that he was not blaming the government, the police or the armed forces, The Indian Express reported.
“But we want the commander responsible, the major who led the operation to be identified and punished,” he added.
On Saturday evening, the security forces mistakenly opened fire at a pick-up van carrying coal miners from the Tiru area to their village Oting in Nagaland’s Mon district, killing six on board. They mistook the group of workers for insurgents.
After the ambush, residents set vehicles of the security forces on fire. As the soldiers fled, they shot dead more civilians, alleged Nyawang Konyak, the president of the Mon district unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party. In the ensuing chaos, seven more civilians and one soldier died.
The violence spilled over into Sunday afternoon after locals entered a camp of the Assam Rifles to protest against Saturday’s killings. At least one more person was killed after security forces fired back at protestors.