Cutting across party lines, Lok Sabha members on Monday condemned the killing of 14 civilians by security forces in Nagaland on December 4, with some Opposition MPs calling for the repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) as well.
Speaking during Zero Hour, the MPs called for compensation for those affected and raised concerns over unarmed civilians being mistaken for terrorists.
Nagaland MP Tokheho Yepthomi of the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party, an ally of the BJP, told the House that a group of daily wage workers who were returning to their village were killed by 21 Paratroopers, reportedly after information that some NSCN(K) terrorists were travelling in the area.
“They got the information that the undergrounds were moving in two-three vehicles. Whereas, those eight people were moving in a pick-up mini truck. When the 21 Para Troopers approached them, they indiscriminately fired upon them and killed six of them on the spot in the mini truck. The other two were seriously injured,” Mr Yepthomi said.
He said the bodies of the six workers were shifted to another mini-truck and covered with tarpaulin. When the villagers protested and tried to take back the bodies, there was a scuffle and the villagers set fire to three security forces’ vehicles, the MP said. The forces then fired and killed seven more people, he said.
“I think, there is the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act in the State. But this Act has not given powers to the Armed Forces to indiscriminately kill the public,” Mr. Yepthomi said. He said while the State government had announced ₹5 lakh ex-gratia, the Centre should give compensation as the 21 Paratroopers are under its control.
Congress MP from Assam, Gaurav Gogoi, said December 4 and December 5 would be considered black days in the history of Nagaland.
“The death of 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,” Mr. Gogoi asked. He asked the Centre to give ex-gratia to the victims’ families and hold an all-party meeting on the law and order situation in the Northeast.
DMK MP T.R. Baalu called for an enquiry into the incident and compensation for the victim’s kin. Trinamool MP Sudip Bandyopadhyay said the killing of labourers and one solider was “painful”. NCP MP Supriya Sule said ₹25 lakh compensation was not enough and that it should be ₹50 lakh to ₹1 crore, including for the solider who lost his life.
While Congress MP Pradyut Bordoloi called for an “amendment” to AFSPA, AIMIM MP Asaduddin Owaisi said the Act should be repealed. P.V. Midhun Reddy of YSRCP said he sympathised with the people of Nagaland.
“We wish the government should compensate these people adequately. We also want the government to act in such a way that peace is restored soon. Whatever we do or whatever action we take, it should be in such a way that neither the morale of the armed forces nor the confidence of the people in the government should go down,” Mr. Reddy said.
Congress MP Manish Tewari called for an impartial judicial enquiry by a High Court judge and not to invoke immunity under AFSPA for prosecution of those responsible.
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