India’s human rights body issues notice to governments on Nagaland killings


India’s National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued notices to the central government and the Nagaland state government over the reported operation against militants by Army Para Commandos, that resulted in the death of 13 civilians on December 4.

NHRC has issued notices to the defense secretary, home secretary, chief secretary, and the Director General of Police, Nagaland, demanding a detailed report within six weeks.

The commission observed that the security forces have to ensure proper precaution with a humane approach, even if an operation involved the militants.

The report is expected to include the status of the inquiry being conducted by the Special Investigation Team (SIT), relief granted to the immediate relation of the deceased, status of the medical treatment being provided to the injured and the cases registered against the persons, officers responsible for the incident.

NHRC has taken suo motu cognizance of media reports on the killing of civilians when their vehicle was fired upon in an alleged botched up operation by the Army Para Commandos in Mon district of Nagaland on December 4 night. The incident triggered arson, rioting and attack on soldiers and Assam Rifles camp, resulting in more injuries and deaths, including that of one soldier.

Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio immediately condemned the incident and constituted a SIT for probe. The Army has also instituted a Court of Inquiry.

This incident has also led to calls for repealing the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), which gives sweeping powers to the Army and has been a bone of contention in the northeastern states of India for a long time. Nagaland chief minister Rio and Meghalaya chief minister Conrad Sangma have made this demand as have many other organizations in the region.

India’s home minister Amit Shah informed Parliament on Monday, Dec 6 (IST) that “it turned out to be a case of mistaken identity”. He added that the situation has been “reviewed in detail to ensure that normalcy is restored at the earliest” and all agencies are being told to “ensure that no such unfortunate incident recurs in future while undertaking operations against insurgents”.

In identical statements in the upper and the lower house of Parliament, Shah said: “The Government of India sincerely regrets this unfortunate incident in Nagaland and expresses its deepest condolences to the families of those who have lost their lives.”