KOHIMA, 29 Dec: The Army’s Court of Inquiry (CoI), probing the killing of 14 civilians in Nagaland’s Mon district early December in firing by security forces, Wednesday inspected the Ground Zero’ in Tiru-Oting area but the locals refused to cooperate with the team.
Representatives of the Mon district’s civil and police administration accompanied the team. At least three security forces personnel involved in the December 4 firing incidents were also present at the spot.
Six coal miners returning from work were killed in a botched ambush by the security forces, while seven others were gunned down when angry villagers scuffled with them after discovering the bullet-riddled bodies of the labourers on an Army truck.
Sources said the families of those killed or members of the village council did not meet the CoI members following a decision by the Konyak Union, the apex body of tribals in Mon district, to not extend any cooperation to the Army.
Konyak Union president Howing Konyak reiterated the non-cooperation with the Army will continue till justice is done. He said members of the civil societies in the district will also not interact with the CoI team.
Meanwhile, Public Relations Officer (Defence), Kohima, Lt Col Sumit K Sharma in a press release Wednesday evening said the Court of Inquiry constituted by the Indian Army to investigate the Mon incident visited the site at Oting village.
The inquiry team, headed by a senior rank officer, a Major General, inspected the site to understand the circumstances in which the incident could have happened, he said, and added the team also took along the witnesses for better understanding of the situation and to ascertain how events would have unfolded.
The team also visited Tizit Police Station to meet the cross section of the society including civilians, police personnel and doctors who treated the injured for obtaining valuable information, he said.
Earlier, the Army had requested, through public notices, people having information about the incident to directly share it either by being present before the inquiry team at Tizit Police Station or share any input, photo or video by phone, SMS or on Whatsapp Messenger. The information could also be shared in person with the inquiry team at Dinjan Military Station in Assam.
The Court of Inquiry is progressing expeditiously and all efforts are being made to conclude it at the earliest, the PRO said.
The killings have fuelled the demand for withdrawal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, from Nagaland, with civil societies, tribal organisations and common people staging protests.
The Nagaland assembly also passed a resolution seeking repeal of the AFSPA.
The Union Home Ministry had on 26 December set up a six-member committee headed by Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India Vivek Joshi to look at the demand for withdrawal of AFSPA from the state.
Additional Secretary in the Union Home Ministry Piyush Goyal is its Member Secretary, while Nagaland’s Chief Secretary, Director General of Police, Inspector General of Assam Rifles (North) and Joint Director of the Intelligence Bureau are the members. The committee has been asked to submit its report within three months.
Meanwhile, the enforcement of AFSPA, which was last extended in Nagaland on 30 June, will come to an end on 31 December. (PTI)