Centre expresses regret over Nagaland firing incident
LS members express anguish, demand probe
New Delhi, Dec 6 (PTI) Expressing regret over the Nagaland firing incident, Home Minister Amit Shah on Monday said a probe by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) will be completed within a month and asserted that all agencies must ensure such happenings do not recur while taking action against insurgents.
In a statement in Lok Sabha, he said the government is keeping a close watch on the evolving situation and necessary measures are being taken to ensure peace and tranquility in the region.
The state authorities, as a precautionary measure, have imposed prohibitory orders in the affected areas, he informed the House.
Shah offered deepest condolences to the families of those killed in the case of mistaken identity on December 4 and subsequent episodes.
“The Government of India sincerely regrets this unfortunate incident in Nagaland and offers its deepest condolences to the families of those who have lost their lives,” the home minister said.
Security forces opened fire on civilians killing 14 and injuring 11 more in Nagaland’s Mon district in three consecutive episodes, the first of which was a case of mistaken identity, police said on Sunday. One soldier also died in rioting which followed.
Narrating the sequence of events, Shah said the Army received information on the movement of insurgents in Nagaland’s Mon and ’21 Para Commando’ unit laid an ambush.
A vehicle was signalled to stop but it tried to speed away. Suspecting the presence of insurgents in the vehicle, the security personnel opened fire, he said.
Six out of eight occupants of the vehicle died in the firing by security forces, Shah said, adding that later, it was found to be “a case of mistaken identity”.
Two persons who sustained injuries were evacuated to the medical facilities by the Army personnel.
He said local people, on getting news of the firing, surrounded and attacked the troops and one soldier was killed in the violence while several others were injured.
Shah said that in self-defence and to disperse the crowd, the troops had to open fire in which seven more civilians were killed.
He said that on Sunday evening, an agitated crowd targeted Assam Rifles company operating base and forces had to open fire in which one civilian was killed.
It has been decided that all agencies must ensure such incidents do not happen in the future during action against insurgents, the minister said.
Quoting an Army statement, Shah said the cause of the unfortunate loss of lives is being investigated at the highest level and appropriate action will be taken as per law.
“Ministry of Home Affairs also deputed additional secretary, in-charge of North East to Kohima wherein he held a meeting with the chief secretary and other senior officers of the state government of Nagaland and senior officers of para-military forces today morning.
“The situation was reviewed in detail to ensure that normalcy is restored at the earliest,” he said.
Dissatisfied with the statement, opposition parties including the Congress, DMK, SP, BSP and the NCP walked out of the House. They said neither there was any mention of compensation nor of action against the guilty.
The members of the Trinamool Congress did not join the walk-out.
Earlier in the day, Lok Sabha members condemned the Nagaland incident and demanded an impartial probe.
Members also called for the repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).
Stressing that emotional integration of people living in border areas is extremely important for the unity and integrity of the country, senior Congress leader Manish Tewari demanded an impartial judicial inquiry by a sitting high court judge into the unfortunate incident.
He also urged the government not to invoke immunity under the AFSPA against those found guilty.
Tokheho Yepthomi, Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) member in the Lok Sabha, said, “There should be an inquiry into the incident. The state government has announced an ex-gratia of Rs five lakh for the slain people. Since the civilians were killed by central security forces, the compensation should be paid by the Centre”.
“The AFSPA has not given powers to security forces to indiscriminately kill people,” Yepthomi said.
Congress member Gaurav Gogoi said the deaths at the hands of security forces were highly condemnable.