An Army para commando squad lying in wait for militants in Nagaland’s Mon district last week shot and killed six tribal villagers, all of them coal mine workers returning home in a van. Soon after, villagers of a search party found the bodies and attacked soldiers with sharp weapons, leading to firing in which seven more civilians died. A soldier was also killed in the clash.
Later, another civilian was killed in Mon, dominated by the Konyak tribe, when security forces repelled a mob attack on an Assam Rifles camp. It was one among several such incidents of arson and rioting in the district since the previous night. At least 20 people have been injured in the ambush and the violence that followed.
Faulty or halfbaked intelligence coupled with mounting pressure to deliver results in counter-insurgency operations in the northeast could have led to the botched operation, officials said. There is “intense pressure” on security forces to deliver after Colonel Viplav Tripathi, his wife, son and four soldiers were killed in a well-planned ambush by insurgents in Manipur on November13, officials said.
The Army’s 3 Corps and Assam Rifles said the “specific” operation was mounted on the basis of “credible intelligence of likely movement of insurgents” in a truck on the Oting-Tiru road. The Mon district, which shares the porous border with Myanmar, is the stronghold of Yung Aung faction of the banned NSCN (K).
A top home ministry official will visit Nagaland to hold meetings with all stakeholders, even as defence minister Rajnath Singh, home minister Amit Shah, Army chief General M M Naravane and others were briefed about the incident. “It looks like a case of mistaken identity,” said an official.
2 CMs say AFSPA must go
The Chief Ministers of Nagaland and Meghalaya Neiphiu Rio and Conrad Sangma respectly called for the repeal of AFSPA while home minister Amit Shah expressed regret over the incident in Parliament. Shah told Lok Sabha that it was a case of mistaken identity and offered condolences to families of the victims. The DGP and Nagaland commissioner said villagers has found the commandos trying to conceal the bodies after the initial firing and take them away. The Nagaland police registered an FIR charging the elite 21 Para-SF unit with murder and said it was kept in the dark about the operation.