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Opp, BJP allies warn govt: Nagaland firing will disrupt peace process

Home Minister Amit Shah told the Lower House that a Special Investigation Team (SIT) has been formed to probe the incident, which will submit a report in 30 days.

Written by Liz Mathew | New Delhi |
Updated: December 7, 2021 7:17:02 am
“The death of the Indian civilians on the basis of inaccurate intelligence inputs is highly condemnable,"Congress MP Gaurav Gogoi asked. (LSTV/PTI)

Members of the Opposition as well as allies of the BJP on Monday cautioned the government that incidents like the Nagaland firing would disrupt the peace process in the region as well as create hassles for the government’s attempts to finalise the Naga accord.

Home Minister Amit Shah told the Lower House that a Special Investigation Team (SIT) has been formed to probe the incident, which will submit a report in 30 days. Opposition MPs sought to raise some queries after his statement, but Speaker Om Birla said every party leader was given a chance to raise the matter in the morning. In protest, members of the Congress, DMK, NCP, SP, BSP and Left parties staged a walk out.

The Opposition urged for an impartial inquiry, the repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) enforced in Nagaland and compensation for the families of those who were killed. They also questioned how the 21 Para Special Forces of the Army got wrong information about the villagers.

“The death of the Indian civilians on the basis of inaccurate intelligence inputs is highly condemnable. The question on everyone’s mind is how come a group of unarmed civilians, unarmed labourers could not be distinguished from hardcore militants. How could a group of unarmed civilians not be detained and arrested, instead of being shot at?” Congress MP Gaurav Gogoi asked.

His party colleague Pradyut Bordoloi added, “As an Indian, I hang my head in shame when some of our security personnel adjure and carry on such barbaric acts on our own citizens.” He sought amendments to AFSPA.

DMK’s T R Baalu said instead of killing terrorists, security forces have killed citizens. “The security forces are meant to deal with terrorist activities on the porous borders of our frontline areas. Nagaland especially has got a lot of porous borders, and because of that, terrorists used to come and the security forces used to deal with them. But instead of killing terrorists, our own Government security forces have killed our own people, our own citizens. It is not fair. It is very much condemnable,” he said.

NDPP member Tokheho Yepthomi — the sole MP from Nagaland allowed by the Speaker — said the security personnel did not bother to verify the identities of the villagers. He pointed out that the Naga political negotiations have been on for 25 years. “People are anxiously waiting for a solution. From December 1, the Hornbill Festival has also started which would continue for 10 days. Christmas is also coming. The people were in a mood to celebrate Hornbill festival and Christmas but unfortunately, this incident has taken place,” he said, adding that AFSPA does not give powers to the “armed forces to indiscriminately kill the public”.

TMC leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay also echoed the same. “The NSCN organisation used to operate in the lands of Nagaland, and it was very much difficult for the then Government of India to come to a negotiation with this organisation to introduce peace in this area. So, we should remain alert that Nagaland should not be allowed to be deteriorated at all. Now, with this law-and-order problem, it has further deteriorated,” he said.

JD(U) MP Rajiv Ranjan Lalan Singh also expressed his concern over the incident, saying it would stifle the peace process.

“The effort of the government is to establish peace in the northeastern states. Government is also trying to reach a peace agreement. In such a situation, on the basis of wrong identification, if the army kills innocent people. If by or by paramilitary force, then the effort of peace also gets stifled and it will hamper the confidence of the people in the government,” he said.

BSP’s Ritesh Pandey said the families should be offered government jobs. YSRCP MP Midhun Reddy said the government should be careful that whatever is the action, it should not affect the morale of the armed forces or the confidence of the people.

AIMIM MP Asaduddin Owaisi asked whether the government would permit to take action against the personnel involved. “They cannot be called men in uniform; they are killers of innocent people. Will the Government give the permission to prosecute them?” he asked.

Earlier in the morning, many party leaders had been demanding a discussion on the incident outside Parliament, and Opposition MPs raised the matter as soon as the House met in the morning. Trying to raise the issue before Question Hour, Congress leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said it was a “shameful” incident. “These people (in the government) were trying to make a peace agreement.. What happened to that? We must discuss it,” Chowdhury said.

TMC’s Bandyopadhyay also asked the government to see that the Home Minister makes a statement in the House.

A number of MPs gave notices for an adjournment motion on the issue, and the Speaker rejected them but gave them a chance to raise the matter in the House.

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