Nagaland encounter: Cops file case against 30 army personnel
As many as 30 army personnel belonging to the 21 Para (Special Forces) have been chargesheeted by Nagaland police over the botched counter-insurgency operation that left 13 civilians, mostly coal miners, dead in the Oting-Tiru area in Nagaland’s Mon district on December 4 last year.
Nagaland DGP T. John Longkumer told a media conference near Dimapur that the chargesheet had been filed in the district and sessions court, Mon, on May 30.
The DGP, however, said a sanction for prosecution was awaited. The request for the sanction had been forwarded to the department of military affairs in the first week of April and a reminder sent in May.
The chargesheet has been “filed pending sanction for prosecution” against the 30 accused, a police statement said.
The botched operation had triggered widespread outrage and demand for repeal of the contentious Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, which gives security personnel in designated troubled areas sweeping powers to search, arrest and shoot.
A major, two subedars, eight havildars, four naiks, six lance-naiks and nine paratroopers make up the 30 personnel.
“A professional and thorough investigation was carried out by the special investigation in this case. Various evidence, including relevant important documents from various authorities/ sources, scientific opinions from the CFSL (Central Forensic Science Laboratory) in Guwahati, Hyderabad and Chandigarh and technical evidence from NIELIT (the National Institute of Electronics and Information Technology) were collected during the course of investigation,” a media statement issued by the police said.
Although the first case related to the Oting killings was registered by the Tizit police station in Nagaland on December 4, it was re-registered by the state crime police station on December 5 against unknown persons from the army under Sections 302, 304 and 34 IPC.
The probe was handed over to the SIT with an IGP-level officer as the chief investigating officer under the supervision of the additional DGP (law and order).
The police statement said the SIT had made “various observations” on the “manner” in which the operation was carried out, underlined the “need to address” these issues and requested the appropriate authority to act.
“Investigation has revealed that the Op teams had not followed the standard operating procedure and the rules of engagement, and resorted to indiscriminate and disproportionate firing, leading to the immediate killing of the six occupants of the vehicle on the spot and grievously injuring two persons,” the statement said.
Another seven people died in a scuffle and firing when villagers came looking for their fellow residents. A paratrooper died and 14 were injured in the scuffle, which prompted the major to order his personnel to fire. One person died during a protest the next day in Mon town.
The security operation was launched on December 3, apparently based on intelligence about the presence of NSCN (K-YA) and Ulfa-I militants in the area.