New Delhi: The Nagaland unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has termed the civilian killings in the state’s Mon district a “massacre”, and one that is tantamount to a “war crime” and “genocide”. The party has also called for a repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).
On Saturday, security personnel from the Army and the Assam Rifles shot dead six civilians during an operation based on intelligence inputs about the movement of NSCN (K) militants in Mon. Later that evening, a mob attacked the forces, which resulted in the killing of one soldier and at least seven civilians in “counter fire” by security personnel. Another civilian was killed the next day, 5 December.
Speaking to ThePrint Monday, Nagaland BJP president Temjen Imna Along, also the state’s minister for tribal affairs, said there was no “justification for the massacre” of the 14 civilians. The BJP has 12 MLAs in Nagaland and is part of the government, in alliance with the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP), which has 34 MLAs in the 60-member assembly.
“Innocent people were returning after work, and they bore no arms,” Along said. “The Army did not gather proper intelligence before firing. This is tantamount to war crimes during peace time, and this also amounts to genocide,” Along said.
He added that while the people of Nagaland want a political settlement to the insurgency, the central government should now repeal AFSPA in the state.
“Due to AFSPA, innocent people are being harassed, the voice of people is being muzzled in the state. Just a month ago, our Konyak Naga people from Tizit area were martyred in the ambush in Manipur,” Along said. “Every life matters, but in the name of AFSPA, without any checks, they (Army personnel) take the lives of our people.”
He further said that the incident could dent the peace process.
“This is a very unfortunate incident at a time when we are trying to conclude the peace process. This can derail the process. Our demand is that AFSPA is repealed and negotiations are completed as early as possible,” the state BJP chief said.
“Our people want a political settlement under the Indian Constitution. We have requested the central government to complete the process as early as possible. We know China is creating disturbances in the Northeast and they are helping Myanmar-based insurgent groups to create disturbance in Nagaland,” Along alleged.
‘Security personnel fired indiscriminately’
The BJP’s senior-most leader in Mon district, meanwhile, has alleged that security personnel opened fire indiscriminately in the aftermath of their botched ambush.
Nyawang Konyak, the BJP’s Mon district president, said he had rushed to the site of the incident after he had heard of the six civilians being killed. Konyak told ThePrint that he was accompanied by his driver, his nephew and a neighbour. They stopped at a spot, when security personnel allegedly began firing at them.
Konyak said all three accompanying him sustained injuries, before the neighbour, a BJP worker, succumbed.
“They (security personnel) were shooting like they didn’t have any pressure. They did not bother to recognise the BJP flag on my car. They could have alerted us or cross-checked on seeing the BJP flag but they did not,” Konyak said. “These forces don’t recognise any flag; this is very alarming. How can you kill somebody if you don’t have evidence and credible information? They did not even spare a BJP worker.”
Other state BJP leaders, too, slammed the security forces over the incident.
Nagaland Health Minister S. Pangnyu Phom told ThePrint that the incident was unacceptable. “This is barbaric action by security forces and is totally unacceptable,” he said. “It is beyond imagination that security forces, who are supposed to protect the region and its people, have committed such atrocities.”
BJP MLA and advisor to the state government, H. Khehovi, also tweeted, terming the incident a human rights violation.
(Edited by Arun Prashanth)