NHRC issues notice to defence secy seeking additional report on army atrocity on villagers in Longding

ITANAGAR, 11 Jan: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Monday issued a fresh notice directing the secretary of the Ministry of Defence to provide additional/ complete enquiry report on the alleged army atrocity on villagers of Longkhojan in Longding district in 2018, along with action taken in the matter before 18 February, 2021.

The Commission also sought a status report on the payment of interim compensation of Rs 50,000 to each victim as recommended by it, apart from the already paid/ agreed Rs 35,000 to them, along with proof of payment.

The Commission received a complaint from the Arunachal Pradesh unit of the North East Human Rights Organization on 17 February, 2018, alleging that the villagers of Longkhojan were exposed to brutal and barbaric acts in the name of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act.

The complainant stated that the body of one Kamchan Wangpan belonging to the NSCN (U) group was brought to the village in the evening of 14 November by the militants. The villagers were threatened and compelled to carry the body up to Ranglua village.

The complainant stated that some Indian army personnel came to Longkhojan village and started a search operation without informing the village chief and the village elders. The search operation was not accompanied by civil police.

Altogether, 23 people were detained in the general ground the entire night without food, water and warm clothes. A church pastor and a former ZPM were beaten with sticks and received injuries, while a woman was also said to have been beaten up by the army personnel.

The Commission said a report on the incident was received from the Longding SP, wherein it was stated that on 17 February, 2018, during exchange of fire between army and the militants, one militant, identified as Joiwang Mongchan died.  Two other NSCN (U) militants also died in exchange of fire the next day. Two FIRs were registered in both the incidents.

“During this, a subsequent search operation was conducted in the area in search of other militants, and due to language problems all the villagers were asked to gather in the playground for verification. Later on, the matter was amicably resolved between the villagers and army on 1 December, 2018,” the Commission said, quoting the SP report.

The Commission, in its proceedings on 11 November, 2019, noted: “It is apparent from the report of the Longding SP and findings of the investigation division that the army personnel have violated the basic human rights of villagers, misbehaved with them and also caused injuries to the victims, including females. Merely they have entered into amicable settlement with the villagers on assurance of meagre amount of Rs 35000 each in the name of medical assistance. The issue doesn’t seem to be resolved.”

“Further the report is not giving any disclosures/ details regarding the number of victims and who agreed upon to be given the benefit of meagre amount of Rs 35000 each in the name of medical assistance,” the Commission said.

The Commission issued a show cause notice Under Section 18 of the Protection of Human Rights Act to the secretary of the Ministry of Defense seeking response from the ministry on why the Commission should not recommend an interim compensation of Rs 50,000 each be paid to the victims apart from already paid or agreed Rs 35000 to each of the victims, as there is gross violation of human rights of victims by army personnel and the state is vicariously liable for it.

The Commission said it had received a report from the Ministry of Defence, Department of Defence on 6 August, 2020  wherein it was  intimated that the subject matter of the complaints in both the cases pertain to Department of Military Affairs and  they have requested the ministry to take necessary action in the matter.