BJP’s Nagaland state president today said that the firing incident in the Mon district was “tantamount to war crimes during peacetime and amounts to summary execution as well as genocide.” Temjen Imma Along, who is also a minister in the state government, appealed to the union government to provide immediate monetary compensation followed by additional measures for the next of kin of the victims. 14 people, including 13 civilians and one special forces personnel, were killed in a counter-insurgency operation that went awry on Saturday. Another civilian was killed in violence that escalated after protests by locals.
Mr Along said he was “deeply anguished and heartbroken” at the killing of “13 innocent Oting villagers”. In a public letter signed by him, he said that it “can’t be tolerated by anyone at any cost” and that simply putting the blame on intelligence failure was “the lamest excuse”. He pointed out that it is especially crucial to exercise “extreme caution and patience” at a time when the government of India and Naga political groups are engaged in a peace process which is at the threshold of a settlement to the protracted Naga political issue.
“The innocent victims were labourers returning from a hard day’s work and were not armed with any firearms whatsoever. It is, therefore, tantamount to war crimes during peacetime and amounts to summary execution as well as genocide,” he said.
He called it a “heinous crime” and demanded that the “rogue Assam Rifles personnel” responsible for it be brought to justice and made to answer truthfully as to how “innocent, unarmed persons were gunned down; why the Assam Rifles could not discern that the 6 persons in the pick-up truck were unarmed, innocent civilians; on what basis the commanding officer gave the firing order.”
The Assam Rifles has released an official statement on the incident expressing “deep regret” on the loss of lives and also pointing out that their pot was attacked by an angry mob. “The Assam Rifles Post at Mon was severely attacked by a mob of more than 300 locals from different sides. The troops of Assam Rifles at the post however maintained a high degree of restraint and fired in the air to disperse the crowd,” the statement added.