13 civilians killed in firing by security forces, chief minister calls for calm

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13 civilians killed in firing by security forces, chief minister calls for calm

Union Home Minister Amit Shah said a Special Investigation Team appointed by the state will look into the killings of coal miners.


Thirteen civilians were killed and nine injured in firing by security forces in Oting village in Nagaland’s Mon district on Saturday evening, the state’s Principal Secretary (home) Abhijit Sinha told Scroll.in.
Sinha said those killed were daily wage labourers who were returning to their village after work. They worked at a coal mine and were returning home in a pick-up van from Tiru area when the security forces opened fire.
“They were ambushed by one para unit of Army at Oting,” the home secretary said. “The Army had input that some cadres of underground groups were moving there. Unfortunately they ended up firing and ambushing the vehicle in which the daily wage labourers were returning to their village.”

The 3 Corps of the Indian Army issued a statement on Sunday morning an operation in Tiru area of Mon district had been planned, based on “credible intelligence of likely movement of insurgents”.
“The incident and its aftermath is deeply regretted,” it added. “The cause of the unfortunate loss of lives is being investigated at the highest level and appropriate action will be taken as per the course of law.”
One also soldier died in the operation and the security forces have suffered severe injuries, the Army said. The Army ordered a Court of Inquiry into the killings.

Meanwhile, Locals set vehicles of the security forces on fire after the killings and the situation is tense in the area.

Sinha said a first information report on the killings had been filed.
Mobile internet and messaging services in the area have been snapped till further orders to stop the spread of rumours, fake news, and “inflammatory photos and videos”, the Nagaland government said in an order.
Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio said a high-level special investigation team will conduct an inquiry into the killings.

“The unfortunate incident leading to killing of civilians at Oting, Mon is highly condemnable,” he said in a tweet. “Condolences to the bereaved families. Appeal for peace from all sections.”
Deputy Chief Minister Yanthungo Patton promised “justice will be served”.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah also expressed grief over the deaths and offered his condolences to the families of the deceased.
“A high-level SIT [Special Investigation Team] constituted by the state government will thoroughly probe this incident to ensure justice to the bereaved families,” he said in a tweet.

To protest the killings, the Eastern Nagaland People’s Organisation announced the withdrawal of six tribes it represents from the state’s annual Hornbill Festival being held near capital Kohima.
“How can we dance at the festival when our people are getting killed?” a leader of Konyak tribe asked, according to The New Indian Express.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi sought a response from the government about the deaths. “This is heart wrenching,” he wrote on Twitter. “What exactly is the home ministry doing when neither civilians nor security personnel are safe in our own land?”

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