Union Home Minister Amit Shah addressed Parliament on Monday, 6 December, on the Nagaland firing incident and expressed regret over the death of 13 villagers at the hands of security forces in a counter-insurgency operation gone awry.
Amid uproar, Shah said that the vehicle which the security forces fired at was trying to flee when asked to stop.
"The army had received information about the possible presence of extremists in Oting, Mon. On the basis of that, 21 commandos had laid an ambush in the suspected area. A vehicle that reached there was signalled to stop but it tried to flee. On suspicion of the vehicle carrying extremists, it was fired upon," Shah told the Lok Sabha.
"Six out of the eight people who were travelling in the vehicle died. It was a case of mistaken identity. The two who were injured were taken to a nearby healthcare centre by the forces," he said.
'Situation Tense, But Under Control,' Claims HM Amit Shah
"Following this incident, the local villagers ambushed the forces, burnt two vehicles, and attacked the personnel, leading to the death of one jawan and several others were injured. The personnel resorted to retaliatory firing in self-defence, leading to the death of seven more civilians," Shah added.
He added that the situation was tense but under control.
Assuring a probe of the highest level and apprising the House of the Special Investigating Team (SIT) formed for the case, Shah said that the army had expressed regret over the incident and would probe the matter as well.
Shah's statement came after several Opposition leaders gave adjournment motion notices to discuss the killing of civilians.
'Why is This Happening in the Northeast,' Asks Congress
Stating that the home minister's remarks "hold no water," Congress MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, as per ANI, said:
"It cannot relate to disturbing news emanating from Nagaland."
Further, the Congress MP pointed out that they have been asking "why fire was opened at innocent civilians and why a soldier had to lose his life."
In an unrelated incident a few days back, a colonel and his family were gunned down in Manipur. Alluding to it, Chowdhury asked, "Why is this happening in the Northeast?"
Congress MP Manickam Tagore had earlier moved an adjournment motion in the Lok Sabha to discuss the incident and Rajya Sabha MP Manoj Jha had given a suspension of business notice for the same.
Rajya Sabha Leader of Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge had also demanded a statement from the home minister.
At least 13 villagers in Nagaland lost their lives while travelling to Oting on Sunday.
In the aftermath of the attack, a new spell of violence broke out on Sunday, after hundreds of civilians vandalised an Assam Rifles camp in Mon district. One protesting citizen died as a result.
Consequently, Nagaland administration implemented prohibitory orders, with Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) being imposed in Mon town in light of the clashes and the tensions, thereby prohibiting a gathering of four or more people in public.
The government had also reportedly banned mobile internet and SMS services in the entire district.
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