Home Minister says, "Instead of stopping, the pickup vehicle tried to speed up….and so subsequently on apprehension that there could be suspected rebels/insurgents, the said vehicle was fired upon."
New Delhi: Amid tension in Nagaland and state Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, insurgent groups and lawmakers in Delhi pressing for withdrawal of Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA), Union Home Minister Amit Shah said in Lok Sabha that the firing mishap in Mon district was due to 'mistaken identity'. He said as the pick-up vehicle with civilians "did not stop", it raised suspicion, and forces had opened fire, killing six people on the spot.
"There were intelligence inputs…. based on this 21 para commanders had laid an ambush, One vehicle reached the spot….around the same time. An indication was made in attempt to stop the vehicle, but it did not," Shah said in the Lok Sabha.
He said, "Instead of stopping, the pick up vehicle tried to speed up…. and so subsequently on apprehension that there could be suspected rebels/insurgents, the said vehicle was shot at.Out of eight people, six people died on the spot," the Home Minister said.
He said while the security forces had acted based on intelligence on the movement of extremists in Oting, in Mon district, two of the injured were taken to the nearest health centre by Army. He said, "After receiving news of this, local villagers surrounded the Army unit, set 2 vehicles on fire and attacked them."
Altogether 16 people, including one jawan, were killed in the Oting area of Mon district. There have been retaliatory riots by angry locals too.
The first assault by security forces on Dec. 4 was due to mistaken identity as there were inputs of movement of insurgents from a militant group known to be based out of Myanmar, a source said in New Delhi. There was suspicion of the movement of NSCN (KY), which generally has a base in Myanmar.
The Naga Students' Federation (NSF) had called for a six-hour Bandh commencing 6 am on Monday and five-day mourning throughout the state and Naga inhabited areas. The NNPGs, which was seen as too keen to ink a final solution pact with the Modi government, said: "The solution to Naga problem would not be political, neither honourable nor acceptable if our youth are murdered." It, however, asserted that the Government of India must declare honourable and acceptable political solutions to the Indo-Naga conflict at the earliest.
Tension prevails across the state. Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio has rushed to the Mon district to take stock of the situation. He attended the last rites function of the deceased.
Public leaders in Nagaland and lawmakers in Delhi say the government of India has, over the years, attempted to check militancy in Nagaland and other states by Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA). "The draconian law AFSPA legitimises killing on mere suspicion," said Rev V Atsi Dolie of Angami Baptist Church.
Chief Minister Rio, who attended the last rites of the civilians killed, said the AFSPA should be removed. "It has blackened the image of our country. India is the biggest democracy, so many other laws can handle the situation," he told reporters.