Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju on Wednesday said security forces have launched a massive military operation in eastern Arunachal Pradesh after a sitting MLA and ten others were shot dead the previous day.

Rijiju called this “a dastardly attack” and said he is shocked by the “brutal attack and tragic killing” of National People’s Party leader Tirong Aboh and the others. He claimed that his home state, Arunachal Pradesh, has been peaceful the last few years but these attacks in Tirap district during the elections have spoiled the atmosphere. Assembly polls in Arunachal Pradesh were conducted along with the Lok Sabha elections on April 11.

“Military action alone is not a permanent solution,” Rijiju said, adding that it was important for local people and leaders to cooperate. “Even if few members of local community are involved in insurgency activities, then it affects the security operations because of their family links, etc which results in collateral damages and become human right issue.”

“Some people will only question and blame the security forces but never condemn acts of insurgents,” he added. “They only talk against AFSPA, which is actually brought for better security operation and to protect the citizens.” Many political parties, along with civil society groups in the north east, and Jammu and Kashmir have been demanding the repeal of Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, or AFSPA, which gives the military sweeping powers to search and arrest, and to open fire if they deem it necessary for “the maintenance of public order”.

Rijiju blamed politicians for the violence. “Since 1997-98, politicians and other important people are primarily responsible, who fall prey to the pressures and at times take the help of insurgents,” he said. “It’s time to take a tough stand. Everyone should come together and say no to violence, no to any insurgent groups. If we all stand united, we shall overcome.”

Aboh, who was seeking a re-election from the West Khonsa Assembly seat, was on his way to his constituency when suspected militants opened fire at his vehicle near Bogapani village in Tirap district around 11.30 am on Tuesday. Militants of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland are suspected to be responsible for the attack.

SBK Singh, Director General of Arunachal Pradesh Police, said that the Army units had launched massive combing operations in the area to arrest the perpetrators.