Civilians died owning to mistaken identity in Nagaland. Army vehicles were burnt down by angry villagers after 13 Naga youth died owning to mistaken identity by Indian Army

The Indian Army issued a statement today regretting the death of 13 Naga youths owning to mistaken identity. The Army’s 3 Corps headquartered near Dimapur in Nagaland issued a statement owning responsibility for the incident and assuring appropriate action. In the statement, the Army said that based on credible intelligence of likely movement of insurgents, the Army had initiated a specific operation in the area of Tiru in district Mon, Nagaland. It further added, “The incident and its aftermath is deeply regretted. The cause of the unfortunate loss of lives is being investigated at the highest level, and appropriate action will be taken as per the course of law.” Army personnel also suffered injuries, and one soldier succumbed to the injuries.

As per the reports, on Saturday evening, the youth were returning from nearby coal fields. But the Army mistook them as insurgents and opened fire on them. Soon after, angry locals attacked the army team, and the soldiers reportedly fired on them for ‘self-defence’. Six of the villagers were killed on the spot while seven others succumbed to the injuries later during treatment. The villagers also set fire to vehicles of the security forces. The angry villagers torched several vehicles of the security forces after the incident.

Police said that army soldiers were waiting for members of the banned National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Khaplang-Yung Aung), but fired at the pick-up van carrying the workers instead. An army official said that the vehicle didn’t cooperate when asked to stop, and that’s why they assumed it to be carrying the insurgents. The official informed that 6 villagers were killed in the ambush by the army and two were injured, and later when the villagers attacked them, 7 more were killed in shooting in self-defence. He also informed that a soldier was killed and three others were injured in firing from the angry crowd.

The villagers, mostly from the Konyak community, informed that the labourers come home every Saturday from the mine around 15 km away in the Tiru area, spend the Sunday with their families and return to work on Monday. This has been a regular routine for a long time, the members of Konyak Union informed. The Konyak community members have said that they will not participate in the Hornbill festival due to the festival. In fact, the Eastern Nagaland People’s Organisation (ENPO) has announced the withdrawal of six tribes it represents from the annual Hornbill Festival ongoing at Kisama near State capital Kohima.

Home Minister Amit Shah expressed condolences over the incident and said, “Anguished over an unfortunate incident in Nagaland’s Oting, Mon. I express my deepest condolences to the families of those who have lost their lives. A high-level SIT constituted by the State govt will thoroughly probe this incident to ensure justice to the bereaved families.”

Neiphiu Rio, Chief Minister of Nagaland, said, “The unfortunate incident leading to the killing of civilians at Oting, Mon is highly condemnable. Condolences to the bereaved families & speedy recovery of those injured.”

He further added that a high-level SIT will investigate & justice delivered as per the law of the land and appealed for peace from all sections.