Government of India expresses deep regret, forces fired in self-defence, says Amit Shah on Nagaland civilian killings

Shah said the government was 'keeping a close watch on the evolving situation' and necessary measures to ensure peace and tranquility in the region

Home Minister Amit Shah. Credit: Screengrab of YouTube/@Sansad TV

Regretting the killing of villagers by security forces in Nagaland, the government on Monday said it has asked all security agencies to ensure that "no such unfortunate incident" recurs in future during operations against insurgents even as it announced that the Special Investigation Team of state police will complete its probe within a month.

Making identical statements in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha in the afternoon, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said the government was "keeping a close watch on the evolving situation" and necessary measures, including the Nagaland government issuing prohibitory orders in affected areas, to ensure peace and tranquility in the region.

While parties like Congress, DMK, SP, BSP and the NCP walked out of Lok Sabha expressing dissatisfaction with the statement, Shah read out the three page statement offering "deepest condolences" in Rajya Sabha amid protests by Opposition MPs demanding revocation of suspension of 12 MPs.

In the statement, Shah appeared to defend the security forces when he said that Army personnel had signalled the vehicle carrying the villagers to stop during an ambush in Tiru village of Nagaland's Mon district last Saturday but it did not and the forces opened fire at it though it "turned out to be a case of mistaken identity".

"The situation was reviewed in detail to ensure that normalcy is restored at the earliest. It was decided that all agencies should ensure that no such unfortunate incident recurs in future during operations against insurgents in the future while undertaking operations against insurgents," he said.

He said the government "sincerely regrets this unfortunate incident" and expresses its "deepest condolences" to the families of those who have lost their loved ones.

Explaining the sequence of events, Shah said the Army received inputs about insurgent movement in Tiru village on Saturday and a team of 21 para-commandos laid an ambush in the evening.

"During the ambush, a vehicle approached the location and it was signaled to stop. However, the vehicle tried to flee, following which the vehicle,  suspected of carrying insurgents, was fired upon resulting in the killing of six out of eight persons travelling in the vehicle. However, it turned out to be a case of mistaken identity. The two persons who sustained injuries were evacuated to the medical facilities by the Army personnel.

Following this, locals surrounded the Army team, burnt two vehicles and assaulted them resulting in death of a security personnel and injuries to several others while security forces opened fire in self-defence to disperse the crowd leading to the killing of seven other civilians and injuries to others. "The local administration and Police have tried to diffuse the situation, which remains tense but under control," it said.

While the Director General of Police and Commissioner visited the spot on Sunday, an FIR was registered in the incident in Tizit Police Station. Considering the "complexity" of the case, it was transferred to the State Crime Police Station (SCPS) and a SIT constituted with a deadline of one month to complete the probe.

On Sunday, Shah said, a mob of around 250 people tried to ransack the Company Operating Base (CoB) of Assam Rifles at Mon town. They burnt buildings of the CoB following which troops had to open fire to disperse the mob and in this a civilian was killed while another was injured. More forces have been deployed in the area to prevent any further untoward incident, he said.

Shah said he immediately got in touch with Nagaland Governor and the Chief Minister after hearing about the incident while top officials of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) contacted the Chief Secretary and the DGP of Nagaland.

The MHA also deputed an Additional Secretary, in-charge of North East, to Kohima where he held a meeting with the Chief Secretary and other senior officers on Monday morning.

Watch the latest DH Videos here: