The tenuous peace in the northeast was shattered over the weekend after a botched Indian Army security operation led to the death of six innocent civilians on Saturday, 4 December.
In an apparent case of “mistaken identity”, a counter-insurgency team of 21 Para Special Forces ambushed a vehicle carrying coal workers in Nagaland’s Oting village in Mon district. But the situation derailed further from this point after hundreds from a nearby village attacked the army team. This led to the clash between the two sides, leading to the death of seven more civilians and one jawan.
But that was not the end of the flare-up between the two sides. Fresh violence erupted the next day as well with dozens of protesters attacking the Assam Rifles camp in Mon in protest of the killings and clashed with the army again. Unfortunately, one more civilian died and several more were injured. In purported videos on social media, gunfire could be heard.
Soon after the incident, the army in a statement said that the operation was carried out based on “credible intelligence” and expressed deep regret.
But what does this completely botched operation signal about the type of intelligence received in this region? How could it go so horribly wrong?
This incident also brings the focus back on the ongoing peace talks with the insurgent groups like the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN-IM), talks with whom have reached a stalemate since an agreement on the framework was signed in 2015. With this incident, by how many steps have the peace talks backtracked?
To discuss the conduct of the Indian Army and where the peace talks stand, for today’s episode we spoke with Col DPK Pillay, a retired Shaurya Chakra awardee with experience in counter-insurgency operations in the NE region and Patricia Mukhim, the editor of Shillong Times.