The security forces have “intense pressure” to deliver after the killing of Colonel Viplav Tripathi and his family, according to a report. (Representative image)
The Army operation that led to the killings of 14 civilians and injuring 11 more in Nagaland's Mon district may have happened because of faulty or half-baked intelligence coupled with mounting pressure to deliver results in counter-insurgency operations in the northeast.
The security forces have “intense pressure” to deliver after the killing of Colonel Viplav Tripathi and his family, reported The Times of India citing officials. Colonel Tripathi, his wife, son and four soldiers were killed by insurgents in a well-planned ambush in Manipur on November 13. It is said to be the deadliest ambush in the last six years, they said.
Security forces opened fire on civilians killing 14 and injuring 11 more in Nagaland's Mon district in three consecutive incidents of firing, according to the police.
The first firing which killed six civilians, occurred when army personnel mistook coal mine workers returning home in a pick-up van singing songs in the evening on December 4, to be insurgents belonging to the Yung Aung faction of the banned outfit NSCN (K), about whose movements they had been tipped off.
According to the report quoting the Army’s 3 Corps and Assam Rifles, the “specific” operation on December 4 took place on the basis of “credible intelligence of likely movement of insurgents” in a truck on the Oting-Tiru road.
The Mon district shares the border with Myanmar and is the stronghold of the Yung Aung faction.
As workers failed to reach their homes, local youth and villagers went in search of them and surrounded the army vehicles. In the ensuing melee, one soldier was killed and army vehicles burnt down. Soldiers who fired in self-defense killed another seven civilians, said police officials.
Rioting spilled over into the next afternoon when angry mobs vandalised the offices of the Konyak Union and an Assam Rifles camp in the area, setting fire to parts of the camp. At least one more person was killed and another two injured, as security forces fired back at attackers.
The incident looks like a case of “mistaken identity,” an official told the publication.
Also read | Was Nagaland killings a case of mistaken identify? Here’s what the Army has to say
Another official said that “the security forces probably had faulty intelligence, which was not properly corroborated and verified in the rush to lay the ambush.” The official further said that there was also the possibility that the civilians on the truck unfortunately came into the ambush zone before the insurgents. “Things do sometimes go wrong in such situations,” the official added.
The state government has constituted a five-member Special Investigation Team (SIT) headed by IGP Nagaland to look into the incident, reported news agency PTI citing officials.