New Delhi: The killing of 14 civilians, in a botched security operation and its aftermath, in Nagaland Saturday reverberated in the Lok Sabha Monday with AIMIM MP Asaduddin Owaisi demanding a repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and Congress’ Pradyut Bordoloi seeking an amendment to the legislation.
A team of Army and Assam Rifles personnel shot dead eight civilians around 4.30 pm Saturday, during an operation based on intelligence inputs about the movement of NSCN (K) militants. This was followed by a mob attack on security forces later at night, which resulted in the killing of one soldier and at least six other civilians in “counter fire” by security personnel.
Participating in the Zero Hour discussion, Opposition MPs condemned the incident and demanded a statement from Union Home Minister Amit Shah. They also sought an inquiry into the incident and adequate compensation for the affected families.
Demanding repeal of the AFSPA, All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen’s Owaisi said no country in the world has a “barbaric law like this”. “Will the government give permission to prosecute the killers? Was the informant linked with China?” Owaisi asked.
Addressing the House later, Union Home Minister Amit Shah expressed regret over the incident, and said security personnel fired in self-defence. He also said all agencies should make sure that such an incident doesn’t happen again.
Pradyut Bordoloi, Congress MP from Assam’s Nawgong constituency, called for an amendment to AFSPA. “As an Indian, I hang my head in shame when the Army indulges in such barbaric acts against its own citizens. AFSPA has been extended again in Nagaland… The amendment of AFSPA should be carried out,” he said.
Congress MP Gaurav Gogoi called the incident a “dark day” in the state’s history. Blaming inaccurate intelligence for the incident, Gogoi said, “The question in everyone’s mind is that how come a group of unarmed civilians were not distinguished from hardcore militants.”
In the northeast, AFSPA is operational in Assam, Nagaland, Manipur (except Imphal Municipal area), three districts (Tirap, Changlang and Longding) of Arunachal Pradesh and the areas falling within the jurisdiction of eight police stations in the districts bordering Assam.
The Ministry of Home Affairs had on 30 June extended AFSPA for a period of six months on the ground that Nagaland continues to be in such a disturbed and a dangerous condition that the use of the armed forces in aid of the civil power is necessary”.
Oppn demands probe
The Opposition also demanded a probe into the incident.
Badruddin Ajmal of the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) called for a high-level inquiry into the incident and compensation of Rs 50,000 for the families of those who lost their lives. “The whole nation is ashamed today,” he said.
Ritesh Pandey of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Shiv Sena’s Vinayak Raut demanded speedy investigation in the matter and review of intelligence agencies.
Expressing concern over the incident, Raut said, “How does this kind of incorrect information get passed on to the security forces by intelligence agencies? There should be a review of their work.”
Yepthomi, the lone MP from Nagaland and member of the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP), demanded that an inquiry be initiated and adequate compensation be given to affected families. NDPP is in alliance with BJP in the state.
Other MPs who condemned the killings in the Zero Hour included T.R. Baalu of the DMK and Sudip Bandyopadhyay of the Trinamool Congress. The Trinamool MP said Nagaland should not be thrown into uncertainty.
Baalu said it’s condemnable that our security forces have killed our own people.
NCP’s Supriya Sule and YSR Congress’ P.V. Mithun Reddy also condemned the incident and demanded adequate compensation for all including the soldier who lost his life.
(Edited by Arun Prashanth)