The North East Students’ Organization (NESO) and Khasi Students Union (KSU have come down heavily on the killing of 13 civilians through alleged indiscriminate gunfire by the Army in the village of Oting under Mon district in the state of Nagaland. The incident took place yesterday night.
Thirteen villagers and a soldier were killed in a counter-insurgency operation that went awry on Saturday. Another villager died today as a mob attacked the Assam Rifles camp.
NESO comprises student groups from Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Mizoram, Tripura, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh.
“We express deep shock and anger against the barbaric act of the security forces at Oting village in which armed security forces massacred innocent villagers who were returning home in a pickup truck resulting in the death of numerous persons and injuries to many others. This heinous act deserves the highest condemnation,” said NESO president Samuel Jyrwa.
NESO felt the incident has brought back horrific memories of the past where on numerous occasions the security forces massacred, tortured innocent villagers and even raped women folk for days on end in the name of fighting insurgency.
“The armed forces have been operating in NE with impunity and they are further emboldened with the imposition of a Draconian Law known as the Armed Forces Special Powers Act 1958 (AFSPA) in which the Government of India has not only refused to repeal but decided to continue its imposition despite massive peoples movement against the Act,” added Sinam P Singh, general secretary of NESO.
NESO felt that the Indian government does not want peace in the North East so that it can continue with its plan to militarise the region and suppress the voice of the indigenous peoples through military power.
“We demand that the GOI should remove and repeal AFSPA if it is really concerned about the welfare and well being of the people of NE otherwise it will only further alienate the people of the region,” felt NESO through a press release.
Meanwhile, in a separate missive, KSU general secretary Donal Thabah said that his organisation “expressed its deep resentment and anguish at the brutal slaughtering of innocent unarmed Naga civilians by the trigger happy Assam Rifles”.
Such an unfortunate event is solely due to the promulgation of the draconian Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act in Nagaland and other North East states, Thabah added, and the law, therefore, needs to be revoked.