Following the security forces’ firing at civilians due to “mistaken identity” — as explained by Home Minister Amit Shah today in the parliament — locals in Nagaland rioted in the Mon town and vandalised a hospital. Ironically, the vandalism was a result of a misunderstanding too, say police sources.
On 5 December, the Konyak Union had announced a mass funeral service for the 13 civilians who were confirmed dead by that time at the helipad of the Mon town in Nagaland after their mortal remains were brought from the Oting village. However, the programme was postponed to today at 10:00 AM, but no such clear announcement was made regarding the postponement.
The resulting confusion led to angry reactions by the assembled crowd. A section of the crowd marched towards the district hospital and Konyak Union. They vandalised the KU office.
Thereafter, the mob proceeded towards the 27th Assam Rifles post located at the Thamnan ward. They reached the periphery of the camp and turned violent, pelting stones, vandalising properties and setting three buildings at the premises of the Assam Rifles post on fire. Assam Rifle personnel fired in the air to disperse the crowd, which agitated the mob further.
The district administration and police officials present tried to reason and pacify the mob but were outnumbered by the mob which by then, gathered in strength to about 600-700 people who were armed with sticks, pipes and inflammable liquids. Some of them had daos (local word in Nagaland for machete).
After almost an hour into the mêlée, Assam Rifles personnel, sources said, fired again. The mob then ran for cover.
After the firing ceased, a protestor by the name of Leong of Village Chi was confirmed to be dead on the spot while six others sustained bullet injuries. The injured included an IR personnel of 11th IRB, Aboi. The injured were moved to the district hospital.
At the time of filing of this report, prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC was clamped in the Mon town to control the situation. The situation continues to be tense and volatile.
How 13 civilians were killed in Nagaland on 4 December
Earlier, in the evening of 4 December at around 4:10 PM, eight villagers were returning home from coal mining work at Tiru, Nagaland, in a pickup truck when they were ambushed and killed by the security forces. As per the information with the local police, 21 Para Special Force based in Assam was responsible. The complaint alleged that the force made no attempt to identify the people. They were all unarmed civilians working in the coal mines in the Tiru valley and possessed no arms while travelling in an open Mahindra Pickup truck in broad daylight, says the complaint.
The complaint claims six of these civilians were killed on the spot and two were critically injured. This incident happened a few kilometres from Village Oting.
On hearing the gunshots, the villagers went to the spot, wary that their folk had not returned home from work. On reaching the spot, they found the pickup truck and the special forces personnel trying to hide the dead bodies of the six villagers by wrapping and loading them in another pickup truck (Tata Mobile) apparently with the intention of taking the dead bodies to their base camp.
On finding the dead bodies in the Tata Mobile, under a tarpaulin, violence broke out between the villagers and the security personnel, said the sources. The irate villagers burnt three vehicles belonging to the special forces personnel.
In the disorder, the security personnel again opened fire against the villagers, which led to the death of seven more villagers and eyewitnesses have confirmed that the Special Forces personnel opened fire indiscriminately as they fled from the scene towards Assam side even firing in the coal mine hutments on the way.
On the secured crime site, there are a total of five vehicles, namely
- The Mahindra Pickup in which the civilians were ambushed
- One burnt Scorpio
- Burnt Bolero
- Burnt Tata Winger and
- Tata Mobile (not brunt but damaged).
Altogether, 13 civilians were killed on 4 December and 14 civilians bore serious injures while eight civilians had minor injuries.
Two of the seriously injured persons were taken to Assam by the security forces. The two are now admitted at the ICU of the Dibrugarh Medical Hospital.