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Professional and thorough investigation carried out by the SIT, says DGP of State

Professional and thorough investigation carried out by the SIT, says DGP of State

Thirty personnel from the Army’s 21 Para Special Forces, including a Major, have been named in the chargesheet submitted to the courts in connection with the botched encounter in Nagaland’s Mon district in December 2021 that resulted in the death of 13 civilians, according to Nagaland Police.

“A professional and thorough investigation was carried out by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) in this case,” said Nagaland Director General of Police (DGP) T. J. Longkumer, addressing a press conference at the Chumoukedima police complex on Saturday. “Investigation has revealed that the ops team [21 Para Special Forces] had not followed the standard operating procedure (SOP) and rules of engagement, and resorted to indiscriminate and disproportionate firing leading to to immediate killing of the six occupants of the vehicle [a Bolero] on the spot, and grievously injuring two persons.”

Mr. Longkumer said that a case under various Sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) has been registered against 30 personnel of the operations team of 21 Para SF, which includes one Major, two Subedars, eight Havildars, four Naiks, six Lance Naiks and nine Paratroopers.

The investigation in the case has been completed and the chargesheet was submitted to the District and Sessions Court, Mon on May 30, 2022, the Nagaland Police said in a statement.

“Accordingly, CID [Crime Investigation Department] report seeking sanction for prosecution is forwarded to the Department of Military Affairs in the first week of April 2022 and reminder letter sent in May. The sanction for prosecution is still awaited. Meanwhile, the charge sheet has been filed, pending sanction for prosecution against the 30 accused,” the statement said.

The statement further said that in the CID’s report, the SIT had also made various observations with regard to the manner in which the operation was carried out, pointed out the need to address those issues, and requested the appropriate authority for taking necessary action.

Various types of evidence, including relevant important documents from different authorities and sources; scientific opinions from the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL) Guwahati, Hyderabad and Chandigarh; and technical evidence from the National Institute of Electronics and Information Technology, were collected during the course of the investigation.

Giving details of the operation, Mr. Longkumer said the investigation had revealed that the Alpha team of 21 Para SF, consisting of 31 personnel led by a Major rank officer, launched an operation in the Oting Tiru area on December 3, 2021, based on intelligence inputs on the presence of a group of militants belonging to the NSCN (National Socialist Council of Nagaland)-K-YA and the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA).

On December 4, at around 4.20 p.m., the operation team, which had laid an ambush at Longkhao between Upper Tiru and Oting village and opened fire at a white Bolero pick-up vehicle carrying eight civilians belonging to Oting village, most of whom were working as labourers in a coal mine at Tiru, without ensuring positive identification and failing to carry out “challenging procedure”, the DGP read from a statement. When the villagers of Oting and Tiru reached the incident spot in search of the missing villagers and the pick-up vehicle, they turned violent on discovering the dead bodies, and a scuffle ensued between the villagers and security personnel.

“One paratrooper succumbed to injuries and 14 personnel from the operation team sustained injuries as a result of the scuffle. This led the Major to order for opening fire at around 2200hrs and the op [operations] team started to break contact,” he said.

In addition to the SIT by the State government, the Army had constituted a Court of Inquiry headed by a Major General rank officer to investigate the incident.

A separate first information report (FIR) has been registered against unknown persons to investigate the death of the Paratrooper, assault on other personnel of the 21 Para SF, and damage to government property, based on a complaint filed by 21 Para SF, and the case is currently under investigation.

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