North East

Nagaland shutdown amid tension; Rio & Conrad demand AFSPA repeal

Civilian death toll at 14; 5-day mourning in state

Kohima/Shillong, Dec 6 (UNI): Nagaland observed a six-hour shutdown on Monday as the situation continued to be tense in Mon district, where the death toll in Saturday’s firing incidents during a botched security operation now stood at 15, including 14 civilians and a trooper.

While 13 villagers, including six daily wage labourers of a colliery, died in two separate incidents of firing between Tiru and Oting villages under Tizit sub-division on Saturday, another villager taking part in a violent protest on Sunday against the incidents was killed in a fresh round of firing by the forces. A soldier also was killed.


On Monday, Nagaland observed a protest shutdown from 6 am to 12 noon following a call given by the Naga Students Federation (NSF), which also appealed to the Naga people to stay away from merry-making or festivities for the next five days and join in observing a five-day mourning period from Monday.

Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio called the incident unfortunate. His government has formed a five-member Special Investigation Team under the overall supervision of Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Sandeep M Tamgadg with state Inspector General of Police (Range) Limasunep Jamir as the chief investigation officer.

Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma and Rio asked the BJP-led NDA government to repeal the AFSPA.

“It is time that the government considers a repeal of AFSPA which is inconsistent with the structure and spirit of our democracy,” Sangma said.

Rio, who attended the funeral of the victims, said, “I have spoken to the Union Home Minister (Amit Shah). He is taking the matter very seriously. We are asking the Central government to repeal AFSPA from Nagaland. AFSPA was imposed for the insurgency, but where is the insurgency now,” he said.

Various church organisations — Nagaland Joint Christian Forum (NJCF), Nagaland Baptist Church Council (NBCC), Fellowship of Naga Baptist Association (FNBA), political parties, Naga political groups and civil society organisations and student bodies have condemned the Oting firing incident and called for the repeal of the AFSPA.

The NSF demanded a special Nagaland Assembly session for adopting a resolution on revoking AFSPA and announcement of befitting compensation for the victims.

Candlelight vigils were held across Nagaland on Sunday as a mark of respect to the departed.

The Indian Army in a statement on Sunday “deeply regretted” the incident, and said, “the cause of the unfortunate loss of lives is being investigated at the highest level and appropriate action will be taken as per the course of law”.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah has also expressed anguish and assured justice to the bereaved families.

The security forces were said to be looking for suspected underground cadres of the NSCN(K) based on “credible intelligence of likely movement of insurgents”.

On Sunday, a mob attacked an Assam Rifles Camp, and tried to set it afire, following which the troopers resorted to firing, which led to the death of a civilian, while several others were injured in Mon district headquarters, according to sources.

Meanwhile, internet services were suspended throughout the state and prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the Indian Criminal Penal Code forbidding assembly of more than five persons have been promulgated by the Mon district administration.

The ruling Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) has called for flying the party flag at half-mast in all its offices and individual residences for the next three days.

The Nagaland Pradesh Congress Committee (NPCC) said the massacre resulted from a gross mishandling of security forces by the BJP led NDA Government at the Centre and the BJP alliance partnered UDA Government at the state. The party demanded Rs 1 Crore each as ex gratia to the deceased and Rs 10 lakh each to the injured as compensation.

The NSCN (IM) has termed December 4 as a “black day” for the Nagas.

A high-level delegation led by Nagaland Minister for Transport and Civil Aviation Paiwang Konyak reached Oting village on Sunday to take stock of the situation. The state government has also announced an ex-gratia relief of Rs 5 lakh to the next of kin of the deceased.

All injured persons were being extended medical care. Nagaland Deputy Chief Minister Y. Patton also rushed to the troubled spot.

According to official sources, the Assam Rifles were not involved in the firing incident on Saturday. Some of the seriously injured were flown by charted helicopter to Dimapur and admitted to CIHSR.

The Nagaland government has cancelled all cultural activities slated for Monday.

The Eastern Nagaland Peoples’ Organization (ENPO) – a representative body of six tribes of eastern Nagaland -has directed people to stay away from the ongoing Hornbill Festival.

Ao Senden, the traditional apex body of the Ao tribe, has declared the tribal contingent will no longer participate at the festival.

In Meghalaya, The North East Student’s Organisation (NESO) announced it will be organising protest programmes in the capitals of the seven northeastern states on December 9.

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