Leave now on ‘moral ground’: Nagaland’s tribal body to Assam Rifles

Konyak Union, an influential tribal body in Nagaland, has sent a memorandum to the President, seeking removal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from the entire North East region and action against the soldiers involved in the civilian killings.

14 members of the region’s predominant Konyak tribe were killed on Saturday after Indian forces “mistook” a group of labourers for armed fighters and opened fire.

An independent inquiry under a competent investigating agency to be immediately set up and two members from the Eastern Nagaland Peoples’ Organisation (ENPO) must be inducted in the Special Investigation Team (SIT), the tribal body demanded.

Konyak Union called the incident as “Oting Yatong massacre,” urged the President to book and punish all military forces or army personnel involved in the incident under applicable civil court.

Action taken against the accused must be put into the public domain within a month, tribal union’s memorandum demanded.

Another important demand reads: “Assam Rifles must immediately vacate Mon district on moral ground for failing to provide security to its citizens whereby the military forces from other state had intruded and committed the Oting Yatong massacre on 4th December, 2021.”

Konyak Union also declared non-cooperation against the armed forces. It also asked the security forces to stop patrolling in the Konyak region during the seven-day public mourning period from December 6.

“The incident seems to be a complete failure of the intelligent source (s) and well calculated attempt on the innocent civilian and the incident cannot be termed as mistaken identity at all,” read the memorandum.

The Nagaland Police has lodged an FIR against the paramilitary forces, stating the intention of the security forces was to “murder and injure civilians.”

“At around 1530 hours, coal mine labourers of Oting village were returning to their native village Oting from Tiru in a vehicle Bolero pick up. On reaching at Longkhao between Upper Tiru and Oting village, security forces blankly opened fire at the vehicle without any provocation resulting to the killing of many Oting villagers and seriously injuring many others (sic),” read the FIR against 21st Para Military Force.

A total shutdown has been imposed in capital Kohima after locals protested against the army personnel.

In a statement in the Parliament on Monday, Union Home Minister Amit Shah pointed out that the vehicle, carrying the six civilians who were gunned down in an area between Tiru and Oting village in Nagaland’s Mon district on Saturday evening, was signalled to stop but it tried to flee. Following this, it was fired upon by the security forces, who had mistaken the civilians as extremists.