Nagaland shooting: High-level SIT to probe civilian killings in Army ‘ambush’

Nagaland CM, Neiphiu Rio has tweeted that a high-level SIT will investigate the matter, while Assam Rifles have said that it was a case of mistaken identity

The chief minister of Nagaland, Neiphiu Rio, has condemned the unfortunate incident that killed 13 civilians at Oting, Mon.

CM Rio tweeted, “The unfortunate incident leading to the killing of civilians at Oting, Mon is highly condemnable. Condolences to the bereaved families & speedy recovery of those injured. High-level SIT will investigate & justice delivered as per the law of the land. Appeal for peace from all sections.”

In what seemed a case of mistaken identity, Indian security forces killed around 13 civilians on their way home from work. A soldier was also killed in a clash with the villagers later.

The incident

According to the local reports, the incident took place in the evening when coal mine workers were returning from work in a pick-up van at Oting, Mon, Nagaland. The Army officers had assured intelligence confirmation of certain people being transported in a pick-up van.

The forces had launched the operation after they spotted a similar van in the dark. Around six people died in the van and two passengers were injured. It was then the soldiers realized their mistake. The incident triggered a counter-attack from the nearby villagers who snatched their guns after they fired warning shots in the air.

In the scuffle, the warning shots were followed by firing from both sides that killed seven civilians and an Army personal.

Hornbill Festival of Nagaland

The massacre took place during the biggest Naga festival, Hornbill Festival. Konyak Union Kohima has abstained from further participation in the ongoing festival to express solidarity to the victims.

Six more tribes from Eastern Nagaland have also decided not to celebrate the festival, the Eastern Nagaland People’s Organisation has said in a statement.

The SIT probe on Nagaland’s incident

Nagaland Governor Jagdish Mukhi had issued a statement, saying that a Special Investigation Team (SIT) will be constituted to probe the matter from every angle. An inquiry court will be constituted against the involved Army man.

After the incident, Chief Minister Rio rushed to the capital city, Kohima to hold an emergency meeting. He also tweeted about the formation of a high-level SIT to probe the matter. Mobile internet services and bulk messaging stay suspended after the killing.

The Assam Rifles stationed in Dimapur has said in an official statement that the specific operation was planned in the area “based on credible intelligence of likely movement of insurgents”.

“The incident and its aftermath are deeply regretted. 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,” the statement read, adding that one soldier died and others received severe injuries.

Mon shares a porous international border with Myanmar from where suspects were supposed to enter the state.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah, under whose ambit the Assam Rifles fall, has also offered condolences to the victims and their families. “Anguished over an unfortunate incident in Nagaland’s Oting, Mon. I express my deepest condolences to the families of those who have lost their lives. A high-level SIT constituted by the State govt will thoroughly probe this incident to ensure justice to the bereaved families,” Amit Shah tweeted on Sunday.

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