At least 10 civilians, one soldier dead in Nagaland, Army says incident is 'regretted', CM constitutes SIT

05-12-2021

Kohima/New Delhi, Dec 5 (UNI) At least 10 civilians and a security force personnel were killed in Oting village, in Mon district of Nagaland, as security operations went awry, evoking sharp reactions from all quarters. State Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio called the incident unfortunate and announced SIT to probe it.

The Army, in a statement, said the incident is "deeply regretted", while Union Home Minister Amit Shah expressed anguish and assured justice to the bereaved families.

While there has been no official confirmation of the number of civilian deaths, least 10 were reportedly killed by security forces who were looking for suspected underground cadres of the NSCN(K) in Oting village under Longkhao area of Tizit Sub-division in Mon district of Nagaland around 4 PM on Saturday. The incident was reported on Sunday. At least 20 soldiers were also injured in the incident.

However, the local organisations said 14 civilians are missing and the 'Army personnel were seen carrying the dead bodies till late night'.

According to official sources, the district authority of Mon has restricted the internet service throughout the district as a precautionary measure.

Eye witnesses alleged that the security forces fired upon a pick-up truck which was carrying daily wage labourers of colliery who were returning home after their days work at a coal mine from Tiru area.

The Army was carrying out an operation in search of NSCN (K) cadres led by Yung Aung, a Myanmar-based outfit in the area. The local organisations said that 'army personnel were seen carrying the dead bodies till late in the night'.

In the statement, the Army said they were moving based on "credible intelligence", and said the incident is "deeply regretted".

"Based on credible intelligence of likely movement of insurgents, a specific operation was planned to be conducted in the area of Tiru, Mon District, Nagaland," the Army said.

"The incident and its aftermath is 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 security forces have suffered severe injuries in the incident including one soldier who succumbed to the injuries," said the Army.

Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio announced a Special Investigation Team will probe the incident.

"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," said the Chief Minister.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah meanwhile said, "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."

The incident also drew sharp reactions from the Opposition.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi slammed the Home Ministry for the incident, and said, "This is heart wrenching. GOI must give a real reply. What exactly is the home ministry doing when neither civilians nor security personnel are safe in our own land?."

West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress Chief Mamata Banerjee meanwhile called it a "worrisome news" and extended condolences.

"We must ensure a thorough probe into the incident and ensure that all victims get justice," Banerjee said in a tweet.

Tension prevailed in the area and various organisations protested the killing of civilians by the Army and attacked some of the security forces and set some of their vehicles on fire. Senior police officials have rushed to the area and investigations have been initiated, sources said.

Army sources said they are still collecting the information of the operation that was going on against some underground armed cadres present in the area. The injured jawans have been admitted in Dinjan Army Hospital in Dibrugarh district of Assam.

High police officials rushed to the area and investigation over the killing of civilians is ongoing, civil sources said.