Congress slams Govt after security forces kill 13 civilians in Nagaland
At least 13 civilians were gunned down by security forces in Mon district. Rioting spilled over into Sunday afternoon; one soldier also died in rioting which followed; mob vandalised Assam Rifles camp
The Congress on Sunday attacked the Centre over the killing of civilians during an anti-insurgency operation in Nagaland, with Rahul Gandhi saying the government must give a "real reply" as to what is the home ministry doing when "neither civilians nor security personnel are safe in our own land".
At least 13 civilians were gunned down by security forces in Nagaland's Mon district, police said on Sunday, adding that it is investigating whether the incident was a case of mistaken identity. One soldier also died in the rioting which followed.
Reacting to the incident, Gandhi tweeted, "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?"
Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, in a tweet, said, "Heart-breaking news coming out of Nagaland, my deepest condolences to all the bereaved families. They deserve justice."
In a tweet from its official Twitter handle, the Congress said, "Tragic news from Nagaland is highly distressing. Repeated incidents of violence in North East is a clear indication of Modi govt's failure to maintain law & order & protect national security."
"PM & HM- why is Govt unable to ensure safety of our civilians & security personnel?" the Congress said.
The Army on Sunday ordered a Court of Inquiry into the killing of civilians and expressed deep regret over the incident.
Security forces opened fire on civilians killing 13 and injuring 11 more in Nagaland's Mon district in two consecutive incidents of firing the first of which was possibly a case of mistaken identity, police said. One soldier also died in rioting which followed.
The first firing which killed six civilians, occurred when army personnel mistook coal mine workers returning home in a pick-up van singing songs on Saturday evening, to be insurgents belonging to the Yung Aung faction of proscribed outfit NSCN (K), about whose movements they had been tipped off.
As workers failed to reach their homes, local youth and villagers went in search of them and surrounded the army vehicles. In the ensuing melee one soldier was killed and army vehicles burnt down. Soldiers who fired in self-defence killed another seven civilians, said police officials.
Rioting spilled over into Sunday afternoon when angry mobs vandalised the offices of the Konyak Union and an Assam Rifles camp in the area. The Nagaland government through a notification has banned mobile, internet and data services as well as bulk SMS in the district to curb "circulation of inflammatory video's, pictures or text".
Police said that the post-mortem of the 13 killed is being conducted in Mon and feared that the number of fatalities may increase as at least two of those injured were critical and had to be evacuated to hospitals in Assam while the rest were being treated in Nagaland.
Ordering a Court of Inquiry into the incident, Army said one of its personnel was killed and several others were seriously injured. It said that the incident and its aftermath is "deeply regretted" and the unfortunate loss of lives is being investigated at the highest level.
The state government has constituted a five-member Special Investigation Team (SIT) headed by IGP Nagaland, officials said.
PRO Defence (Kohima) Lt Col Sumit K Sharma said 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 incident and its aftermath is deeply regretted.
Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio promised a high-level probe into the incident and appealed to all sections of the society to maintain peace.
Mon shares a porous international border with Myanmar, where the Yung Aung faction of NSCN (K) is based.
Official sources said Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Army Chief Gen M M Naravane have been briefed about the incident.
SIT shall investigate the incident from all angles while a court of inquiry has been instituted against the army personnel involved, Jagdish Mukhi, Governor of Assam and Nagaland said in a statement, while appealing for peace.
Rio tweeted "the unfortunate incident leading to 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."
Home Minister Amit Shah too tweeted his anguish and expressed 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.