Army tried 'hiding' civilians' bodies in Nagaland

Army made no attempt to identify civilians before shooting, tried to 'hide' bodies: Report

Violence broke out between the villagers and security forces when they discovered the bodies covered with tarpaulin sheets

Relatives and locals pay last tributes to the 13 people who were killed. Credit: PTI Photo

A preliminary spot report submitted by Nagaland's director general of police and commissioner said that residents of Oting village in Mon district found army personnel trying to hide the bodies of six coal miners soon after they were gunned down on Saturday evening. 

The report submitted to the Nagaland government on Sunday stated that troops of Army's 21 Para Special Forces ambushed a pick-up truck at 4.10 pm a few kilometres from Oting village, in which eight miners were returning from their work in Tiru area, killing six of them on the spot. Two others were critically injured. They fired at the truck apparently without any attempt of identification.

"On hearing the gunshots, the villagers went to the spot being apprehensive why the individuals did not return home from work. On reaching the spot, they found the pick-up truck and the special forces personnel trying to hide the bodies of the six villagers by wrapping and loading them in another pick-up truck (Tata Mobile) apparently with the intention of taking the bodies to their base camp," said the report submitted by DGP, TJ Longkumer and Nagaland Commissioner Rovilatuo Mor.

Both the officials had visited Mon soon after the incident and prepared the preliminary report. 

Also Read | Security forces fired at villagers without any provocation, claim Nagaland police in FIR 

"On finding the bodies in the Tata Mobile, under a tarpaulin, violence broke out between the villagers and the security personnel. As a result, the irate villagers burnt three vehicles belonging to the security force personnel. In the melee, the security personnel again opened fire against the villagers, which led to the death of seven more villagers. Eyewitnesses have confirmed that the special forces personnel opened fire indiscriminately as they fled the scene towards Assam side while firing on the coal mine hutments on the way," the report stated. 

The report stated that 13 civilians were killed on Saturday while 14 others were seriously injured. Eight other civilians received minor injuries. "Two of the seriously injured persons were taken to Assam side by the security forces themselves and are in the ICU of Dibrugarh Medical College in Assam," said the report.

The report, however, did not mention the army man who was killed by the angry villagers following the first round of firing. 

Another protester was killed on Sunday afternoon in Mon when they ransacked a camp of Assam Rifles personnel and set it afire. 

Also Read | NHRC sends notice to Centre, Nagaland on killing of civilians in 'botched up' operation

The 3 Corps of Army on Sunday morning issued a statement in which it claimed that a "specific operation" was launched in Tiru area based on "credible" intelligence about the likely movement of insurgents. 

Nagaland government formed a five-member Special Investigation Team (SIT), headed by an inspector general of police, to carry out a thorough investigation into the killings within a month. "We hope the SIT investigation will reveal everything so that the guilty can be punished," Nagaland government spokesperson and minister Neiba Kronu told reporters in state capital Kohima on Tuesday.

The minister said that two critically injured villagers were still in Dibrugarh hospital while six others were in a hospital in Dimapur, and 22 were discharged.

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