Nagaland firing victims laid to rest; CM Neiphiu Rio joins demand for repeal of AFSPA

By PTI

KOHIMA: Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio on Monday joined a growing chorus of demands seeking repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers’ Act (AFSPA) at a poignant funeral service for the 14 civilians killed in firing by security forces.

Rio speaking at the funeral held at Mon Headquarters Helipad Ground, said, “AFSPA give powers to the army to arrest civilians without any arrest warrant, raid houses and also kill people but there is no action against the security forces. They have created a law and order situation.”

Earlier in the day demands for revocation of the AFSPA had been made by Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma, while the TMC which cancelled a plan to send a team to Nagaland too demanded a roll back of the law which gives emergency powers to security forces.

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The Nagaland Police on Monday also lodged a murder case against the 21st Para Special Force of the Army for its alleged involvement in firing on the civilians, even as several tribal bodies enforced shutdowns in protest against the action of security forces.

Officials said that prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC have been clamped in Mon town, but the situation is tense. Meanwhile, confusion prevailed Monday over the death toll in firing by security forces on civilians in Nagaland’s Mon district.

The Konyak Union, the apex trial body in the district, had initially claimed that 17 civilians were killed in the firing, but later revised the toll to 14. However, police has maintained that 14 civilians were killed in separate incidents of firing on Saturday and Sunday.

The first incident in which six civilians were killed, occurred when army personnel mistook coal mine workers returning home in a pick-up van on Saturday evening, to be insurgents belonging to the Yung Aung faction of the banned outfit NSCN(K).

As workers failed to reach their homes, local youth and villagers went in search of them and surrounded the army vehicles. In the ensuing melee, one soldier was killed and army vehicles burnt down. Soldiers who fired in self-defence killed another seven civilians.

Rioting spilled over into Sunday afternoon when angry mobs vandalised the offices of the Konyak Union and an Assam Rifles camp in the area, setting fire to parts of the camp, police had said. At least one more person was killed, as security forces fired back at attackers.

The Nagaland Police filed a suo moto FIR against the 21st Para Special Force of the Army. A case was registered under Sections 302/307/34 of the IPC, relating to murder, attempt to murder and criminal act committed by several persons in furtherance of the common intention of all.

In the complaint, Tizit Police Station in the district said, “On December 4 at around 1530 hours, coal mine labourers were returning to their native village Oting from Tiru in a vehicle. On reaching Longkhao between Upper Tiru and Oting, security forces blankly fired at the vehicle without provocation resulting in the killing of many villagers and seriously injuring many others.”

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It also noted that at the time of the incident, there was no police guide nor did security forces make requisition for guides. “Hence, it is obvious that the intention of security forces is to murder and injure civilians,” the FIR alleged, urging authorities to take necessary action against the culprits.

In a sudden move, tribal bodies, civil societies and student bodies on Monday morning imposed shutdowns of different durations ranging from six to 12 hours across the state. The influential Naga Students’ Federation (NSF) has announced five days of mourning, while also asking tribals not to participate in any celebration during the period.

Officials said that of the 28 injured, the condition of six is stated to be critical and they are undergoing treatment at hospital.