Centre regrets the deaths of 14 people in Nagaland after a botched Army operation, Union home minister Amit Shah told the Lok Sabha on Monday, while the Indian Army has instituted a court of inquiry into Saturday’s counter-insurgency operation in the state’s Mon district.
“The government expresses regret over the incident and expresses condolences to those killed… an SIT has been formed and has been directed to complete investigation within a month. The situation in Nagaland is tense but under control. All agencies have to ensure such incidents do not happen in future,” Shah told the MPs who, according to media reports, shouted objections as the home minister sat down after his statement.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who reportedly met with senior members of his cabinet earlier in the day to discuss the Nagaland situation, was absent from the proceedings.
Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio slammed the Centre for extending the controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA), which allows security forces to conduct operations anywhere in the state and arrest anyone without any warrant.
“Every year, the Centre extends AFSPA in Nagaland, saying it is a ‘disturbed area’… but all armed groups are in ceasefire and part of peace talks. So why extend it?” he asked, adding: “The AFSPA gives immunity to them (the armed forces)… this law is being debated even in international forums. We are the biggest democracy (and a) lot of people are demanding AFSPA be removed”.
One soldier and 13 villagers died in Mon district during the operation in which, according to a police FIR, the Army’s 21 Para Special Forces “blankly opened fire”.
The Army has since expressed deep regret for the “unfortunate loss of lives” and set up an inquiry which will be headed by a major general, a report in Hindustan Times said, adding that the Nagaland government has banned mobile internet and SMS services in the region to curb “circulation of inflammatory videos, pictures or text”.
On Monday evening, Shah made a similar statement in the Rajya Sabha on the Nagaland operation, expressing regret and “condolences to the bereaved families”, and added that “it was a case of mistaken identity… an SIT team has been directed to complete the probe within one month”.The Government of India regrets the deaths of 14 people in Nagaland after a botched Army operation, Union home minister Amit Shah told the Lok Sabha on Monday, while the Indian Army has instituted a court of inquiry into Saturday’s counter-insurgency operation in the state’s Mon district.