The Indian Army’s team investigating the killings of 14 civilians during an operation in Nagaland’s Mon district has asked residents to cooperate with the inquiry and share information, reported ANI, citing the Defence Public Relations Office in Kohima.
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.
A crowd of protestors then set fire to vehicles belonging to the Army. They opened fire again, killing seven more civilians.
The violence spilled over into the afternoon of December 5 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 the protestors.
The investigating team will visit the site of the incident on December 29, the Defence PRO said in the statement on Monday.
“Indian Army Inquiry Team solicits from the public at large any primary information [not forwarded or not from secondary source] pertaining to the incident,” the statement read. “Any person having such info and desirous of deposing before the Inquiry is requested to do so at Tizit PS [police station].”
The Army has assured citizens that the action would be taken against those who are guilty. It has urged residents of Nagaland to assist in the investigation and share information via WhatsApp (+916026930283) or the Army helpline (+913742388456).
“The army is also fully cooperating with the special investigation team inquiry ordered by Nagaland government and required details are being shared in a timely manner,” the statement read, according to North East Today. “It appealed to the people of Nagaland to be patient and wait for the findings of the army inquiry and also assured that necessary action will be taken in accordance with the law to secure justice for all.”
AFSPA gives Army personnel sweeping powers to search, arrest, and open fire if they deem it necessary for “the maintenance of public order”.
In a first information report, the Nagaland Police had said that the Army’s 21 Para Special Force had fired with the “intention to murder and injure” the civilians.
The Nagaland government on Sunday said that a committee would be formed to decide on withdrawing AFSPA from the state. The panel will submit its report in 45 days.
Three days before that, the Nagaland Assembly unanimously passed a resolution urging the Centre to withdraw AFSPA from the North East region, especially from Nagaland.