Nagaland killings: SIT to question Army personnel

SIT to question Army personnel involved in Nagaland civilian killings

The development came to light when a court of inquiry constituted by the Army visited Oting to collect evidence

Locals stage a protest demanding repeal of Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act in Kohima. Credit: PTI file photo

In what is seen as a significant development in investigation into the killing of 13 civilians by security forces in Nagaland's Mon district on December 4, the Army has reportedly agreed to provide to the SIT access to their personnel who were part of the botched operation at Oting village.

Sources in Nagaland police said the Army personnel belonging to its 21 special para forces, stationed at Jorhat in neighbouring Assam would be questioned by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) constituted by Nagaland government following the incident.

The development came to light on Wednesday when a court of inquiry constituted by the Army visited Oting village to collect evidence from the incident site.

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A statement issued by Lt. Col. Sumit K. Sharma, defence PRO based in Nagaland capital Kohima on Wednesday evening said the court of inquiry team, headed by a Major General inspected the site to understand the circumstances in which the incident could have happened.

"The team also took along the witnesses for better understanding of the situation & how events would have unfolded. Subsequently, the team was also present at Tizit Police station in Mon district between 1.30 pm to 3 pm to meet the cross section of the society including civilians, police personnel and doctors who treated injured for obtaining valuable information pertaining to the incident," he said.

Sharma, however, did not talk about reports about possible questioning of the Army personnel by the Nagaland SIT.

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The Army on Monday issued a statement in which it stated that investigation by its court of inquiry was progressing expediously and it was fully cooperating with the SIT. It said required information was also being shared with the SIT in timely manner.

Six residents of Oting village were gunned down by the Army team while they were returning from their work site in a coal mine on December 4 afternoon. Seven others were similarly killed a little later when people from Oting village rushed to the site and clashed with the Army team after seeing the bullet-ridden bodies of the villagers. One Armyman was also killed by villagers.

The killing triggered anger and outrage across Nagaland and elsewhere and intensified demand for repeal of Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA), 1958 from Nagaland. The Centre has constituted a committee to take a decision on whether the AFSPA can be withdrawn from Nagaland.

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