DIBRUGARH/KOHIMA, DECEMBER 30: A special investigation team (SIT) of the Nagaland Government Thursday interrogated the personnel of Indian Army’s 21 Para Special Forces in connection with the killing of 14 civilians in Mon district in firing by security forces.
This is probably the first time that a unit of the Indian Army is being quizzed by an investigation team formed by a civilian Government.
According to sources in Assam and Nagaland, the 22-member SIT interrogated the Indian Army personnel at the Rain Forest Research Institute (RFRI) in Jorhat district of Assam.
Sources told PTI that the interrogation by the SIT, which is headed by Nagaland Police Additional DGP (Law & Order) Sandeep M Tamgadge, continued till late evening of Thursday and will resume again on Friday morning.
Repeated attempts to elicit official comments from Nagaland Police and the Indian Army on the interrogation did not yield any result.
The RFRI campus has been put under heavy security cover and entry of media persons was barred.
The Nagaland Government had on Wednesday expanded the 5-member probe team to a 22-member one and divided it into 7 small groups.
Officials said the Government wants to complete the probe into the violence as soon as possible for quick justice.
On December 4, six coal miners returning from work were killed in a botched anti-terrorist operation by the security forces at Oting village, while 7 others were gunned down when angry villagers scuffled with them after discovering the bullet-riddled bodies of the labourers on an Army truck.
One security personnel was also killed in the melee. Another civilian was killed when a mob attacked an Assam Rifles camp at Mon town the next day.
The Army’s Court of Inquiry, headed by a Major General, on Wednesday inspected the ‘Ground Zero’ in Tiru-Oting area but locals refused to cooperate with the team.
Representatives of the civil and police administration of Mon district had accompanied the team. At least 3 security forces personnel involved in the December 4 firing incidents were also present at the spot.
The killings have fuelled the demand for withdrawal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, from Nagaland and civil societies, tribal organisations and the common people have staged protests. The Nagaland Assembly also passed a resolution seeking repeal of the AFSPA.
The Union Home Ministry had on December 26 set up a 6-member committee. headed by Registrar General and Census Commissioner Vivek Joshi, to look into the demand for withdrawal of AFSPA from the State.
Meanwhile, the Centre on Thursday declared the entire state of Nagaland a “disturbed area” and extended imposition of AFSPA for 6 months with effect from December 30. It termed the situation there as “disturbed and dangerous”. (PTI)