July 2, 2022

Mourners lay wreaths on coffins of Indians mistakenly killed by security forces

GUWAHATI, India, December 6 (Reuters) – Indians outraged by security forces’ mistakenly killing 14 civilians in Nagaland state held funeral rites for the dead on Monday amid intense security and blackouts sporadic Internet aimed at alleviating unrest in the remote northeastern region.

Security and government officials said 13 members of the region’s predominant Konyak tribe and a security soldier were killed on Saturday after border state forces mistook a group of workers for militants and opened fire.

Another tribal member was killed during protests against the killings on Sunday, prompting the government to open an investigation, while police and authorities stepped up patrols ahead of the last rites.

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Hundreds of mourners laid wreaths on the coffins of the dead, lined up on a playground, as Chief State Minister Neiphiu Rio led a mass funeral service in Mon District, the site of the incident.

“The killing of innocent civilians is terrorism, we are Indians, not terrorists,” read a nearby sign.

Interior Minister Amit Shah, speaking in parliament, called for peace in Nagaland. He said the government “expresses remorse” that civilians were killed when security forces attempted to ambush the insurgents.

Shah said an investigation has been ordered to identify loopholes in the security strategy as hundreds of members of the security forces patrol the Mon district.

“Such unfortunate incidents are investigated by the military at the highest level,” he said.

The army has expressed “deep regret” for the lack of intelligence, but residents demanded that it cease operations as army camps have been relocated from civilian areas.

Police lodged a complaint against an Indian Army special forces unit over the incident, claiming that there had been neither a police guide nor a request for a guide from the security forces.

“It is obvious that the intention of the security forces is to kill and injure civilians,” they said in the complaint, reviewed by Reuters.

SWEEPING POWERS

Sentiments run high in Nagaland, where people have often accused security forces of falsely attacking villagers in counterinsurgency operations against rebel groups under a law known as the Human Rights Act. special powers of the armed forces (AFSPA).

In addition to extensive search and arrest powers, the law, enforced in parts of four of the seven northeastern states, allows security forces to open fire to maintain public order in areas designated as “zones.” disturbed ”.

Nagaland is covered by the law, as India claims rebel groups are operating in forests that span the neighboring states of Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh. The three states border Myanmar.

However, Neiphiu Rio called the law draconian and called for its removal.

“Today the whole world is criticizing AFSPA and now the government of Nagaland wants AFSPA to be withdrawn,” said the chief minister.

Members of tribal groups who attended the funeral said the incident revealed flaws in the military’s intelligence gathering techniques and that they should be punished.

“The military considers every civilian an insurgent and has the power to shoot anyone, but must now be expelled from our homeland,” a senior Konyak tribal official said on condition of anonymity.

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Report by Zarir Hussain; Additional reports and writings by Rupam Jain; Editing by Clarence Fernandez, William Maclean

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