Thousands of protestors hit the streets of Nagaland’s capital Kohima on Friday to demand justice for the 14 civilians who were killed by the security forces in the state earlier this month, EastMojo reported.

The protest was organised by the Naga Students Federation. The All Assam Students’ Union, the North East Students’ Organisation, tribal groups and civil society organisations in Nagaland also took part in the demonstration, The Indian Express reported.

Photos and videos from the march showed the protestors carrying placards calling for the repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, which gives sweeping powers to the military to search, arrest, and to open fire if they deem it necessary for “the maintenance of public order”. Army personnel can do so with a degree of immunity from prosecution.

Demands for scrapping the Act have intensified after the killings of the 14 civilians. Protests have erupted across the state against the deaths.

On the evening of December 4, the Army’s 21 Para Special Force had opened fire at a pick-up van carrying coal miners from Tiru to Oting in Nagaland’s Mon district, killing six on board. They had apparently mistaken the group of workers for insurgents.

Angered by the killings, a crowd of protestors then set fire to the vehicles belonging to the Army. They opened fire again, killing seven more civilians.

The violence spilled over into Sunday afternoon after locals entered a camp of the Assam Rifles in the district headquarters of Mon. At least one more person was killed after security forces fired back at protestors.

Naga Students’ Federation President Kegwayhun Tep said on Friday that the security forces had “unleashed terror and fear” in the hearts of Nagaland’s peace-loving citizens, EastMojo reported. He added that the deaths of the 14 civilians will not go in vain.

“We the Naga youths and the upcoming generation shall continue to honour their memories by carrying forward the aspirations of the Naga people through generations to come,” the president of the students’ body added, according to EastMojo.

The protestors in Kohima marched to the governor’s house to submit a letter listing three demands – justice for the deceased civilians, scrapping of AFSPA and an “inclusive, honourable and acceptable solution for the Naga political problem”, The Indian Express reported.

On Thursday, civil society groups and tribal bodies in Nagaland had observed a complete shutdown in five districts to protest against the killings.

Last week, the of families the civilians shot dead by the security forces had refused to accept compensation from the government until the officers involved in the killings are punished and the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act is repealed.

Also read:

  1. ‘They were not signalled to stop,’ claim families of two survivors of the Nagaland army firing
  2. ‘I only want my husband back’: Nine days before he was killed, this Naga miner had got married’
  3. A Nagaland village mourns its dead: ‘How can the army kill my innocent sons?’
  4. Nagaland killings: AFSPA has no place in a democratic country. It must go