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30 Army personnel charge-sheeted in Oting killing

Nagaland News

Sanction for prosecution still awaited: DGP

DIMAPUR, JUNE 11: Thirty Indian army personnel have been named in the charge-sheet submitted by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) of Nagaland Police formed to probe the killing of 13 civilians at Oting Village in Mon District in December last year.
The Director General of Police (DGP), Nagaland, T John Longkumer told a press conference at Chumüokedima on Saturday that the charge-sheet was submitted to the District and Sessions Court, Mon on May 30.
The DGP informed that the 30 personnel of 21 Para (Security Forces) named in the charge-sheet include 1 Major, 2 Subedars, 8 Havildars/Team Havildar Majors (THM), 4 Naiks, 6 Lance Naiks and 9 Paratroopers.
They have been charged under Sections 120B/302/307/326/201/34 of the Indian Penal Code.
The SIT, with IGP (Range) as Chief Investigating Officer and ADGP (Law & Order) as Supervisor, concluded that the 21 Para SF team did not follow the Standard Operating Procedure and the Rules of Engagement “and resorted to indiscriminate and disproportionate firing”.
Longkumer informed that a CID Report seeking sanction for prosecution was forwarded to the Department of Military Affairs in the first week of April this year, followed by a reminder in May.
“The sanction for prosecution is still awaited”, he stated.
According to the DGP, the SIT had collected various evidences including relevant documents from various authorities/sources, scientific opinions from CFSL, Guwahati, Hyderabad and Chandigarh, and technical evidences from NIELIT during the course of investigation.
According to the SIT findings, an Alpha team of 21 Para (SF) comprising 31 personnel, led by a Major-rank officer, had launched an operation in Oting-Tiru area on December 3, 2021, following an intelligence input about presence of a group of NSCN K-YA and ULFA cadres in the area.
“On December 4, 2021, at around 4.20 a.m., the operation team of 21 Para SF who had laid an ambush at Longkhao between Upper Tiru and Oting Village age opened fire at a white Bolero pick-up vehicle which was carrying 8 civilians belonging to Oting Village, most of whom were working as labourers in the coal mines at Tiru without ensuring positive identification and failing to carry out challenging procedure.
“Investigation has revealed that the Op team had not followed the Standard Operating Procedure and the Rules of Engagement and resorted to indiscriminate and disproportionate firing leading to immediate killing of the six occupants of the vehicle on the spot and grievously injuring 2 persons”, the DGP said.
Investigations also revealed that when the villagers of Oting and Tiru reached the spot in search of the missing villagers and the pick-up vehicle at around 9 p.m., they turned violent on discovering the dead bodies and scuffle ensued between the villagers and the operation team.
“One paratrooper succumbed to injuries and fourteen personnel from 21 Para SF team sustained injuries, as a result of the scuffle. This led (the) Major to order for opening firing at around 10 p.m. and the op team started to break contact”, he said.
According to the DGP, a separate FIR was registered by Tizit Police Station on December 11 last year against unknown persons to investigate the death of one paratrooper and assault on other personnel of the 21 Para (SF) as well as loss of Government property, based on a complaint filed by 21 Para SF.
The case is currently under investigation, he said.
Longkumer insisted that the investigation into the Oting incident was “in no way any reflection on the professionalism of the Indian army”.
“However, since an offence has occurred and since law is equal for all of us, after constitution of the SIT under Government order, we have completed the investigation and submitted our report to the competent court”, he said.
(Page News Service)