Mistaken Shooting Of Civilians In Nagaland By Army

Mistaken Shooting Of Civilians In Nagaland By Army


Mistaken Shooting Of Civilians In Nagaland By Army

Arm chair Strategists and so called Honourable Men of Anti – army media are up in arms against the mistaken shooting of civilians, the other day, at a village called Oting, in the Mon district of Nagaland. An attempt is being made to create a din and to say that shooting was deliberately done and it was an act of mass murder. THIS IS FAR FROM THE TRUTH.

The noise for removal of AFSPA -1958 is definitely a deliberate and sinister call to weaken the Country. For one rail or road accident ( which also causes loss of valuable human lives) no one asks for closing down all forms of transportation. So the media chorus does point towards the likelihood of planted false information to engineer such an incident. Soldiers have nothing to settle score with common man of Nagaland. They do their duty as asked by the authorities who matter. AFSPA -1958, though needing an overhaul due to changed conditions, is the shield of soldiers against such self – defence acts going wrong.

Valuable human lives have been lost. Six innocent civilian coal miners have lost their lives which is highly regrettable. However the villagers who attacked the SF party are certainly not innocent. They acted like the insurgents. One SF soldier doing his duty for his country, as ordered, got killed deliberately by these villagers. The soldiers then had to fire in self defence. The Commander and his men acted in the most refrained manner, else with the fire power available with them, they could have easily wiped out all the attackers.

According to reports available, the unit, 21 SF, ( Special Forces) had got definite and confirmed information from official and unofficial sources, about the move of NSCN ( K) insurgents in the area. After due surveillance and reconnaissance, a deliberate ambush was laid on the fateful road. There were three sites at which ambush party was located in a linear fashion in the road. When a vehicle came it was signalled to stop —- some people were seen with rifles. The vehicle did not stop at the first two sites. At the third site, it was fired upon and casualties took place.

The casualties has thus occurred due to non – stoppage of the vehicle, when signalled to stop. Thus, suspicion grew and firing was warranted. It was not the fault of ambush party. Such non stopping of vehicle in such areas will certainly lead to such things.

In January 1991, while conducting Operations against ULFA in Jorhat,an Army ambush party commanded by a Lt had shot an Assam Rifle Brigadier ( ALPHA Range Commander) who did not stop the vehicle, when signalled to do so, while passing through the ambush site. At the third site, he was shot by The troops —- three rounds fired from hip position and all three hits.

While GOC 57 Mountain Division wanted to court martial the officer and the boys, the then 3 Corps Cdr, Lt Gen Jameel Mehmood, tore off the COI and asked the Commanding Officer of the Unit to recommend the ambush party for excellent shooting. The chap who actually got the hit was eventually awarded COAS commendation card. Jameel Mehmood type Generals are needed to stand by the soldiers when things go wrong.

In hind sight, it seems that the Mon district shooting was a deliberate trap by ANEs strategists, at the behest of their foreign bosses. Mon district is notorious for NSCN activities. I had operated in that area in 1981. I am sure, some concocted information was fed to soldiers on the insurgent movement. It could have been as well a trap or deliberate “misinformation”. Terrorists do not move around with head bands. Since, they had weapons, it did lead to confirmation of information on Anti National Elements ( ANEs).

Who says that Civilians were “Hunters” with weapons ? In insurgency area, moving at night and not stopping when signalled to stop ???

Why couldn’t they be insurgents in the garb of hunters/ Civilians ? Local police is misguiding and seems, under local pressure. It happens in Counter Terrorist ( CT ) ops. Local police is always compromised. This has been seen in Punjab, J&K, Nagaland and Assam.Most of the time even Police and IAS officers keep requesting for Army security. They never trust local policemen.

Even if it is assumed that they were really coal mine “labourers/ hunters”, in CT ops, such incidents are inevitable … the Americans call it Collateral Damage. Highly regrettable but certainly not “ murder” as being shouted by some politicians even at the National level. Allowance for such human errors has to be accepted. The Court of Inquiry will bring out all the aspects. Journalists and “class room academicians”, in uniform or out of it, those who sit in AC rooms or those who have never operated in such areas, have brains in their knees. One ought to have served in these areas to know how crucial it was to make a decision in a split second.

SF is trained to go inside the enemy area, hit at high security installations and then vanish without a trace. Here after realizing their mistake, they stayed put to help out the wounded.

CT operations are not a joke. This is why AFSPA -1958 is enforced to protect soldiers. Self defence is the prerogative of the soldiers in CT operations. A highly trained Special Forces soldier got killed or rather murdered deliberately by the “ enraged “ villagers. He too has nearly ten dependents but no one is raising a voice for him ? Just some time back the Assam Rifle Commandant and his wife were killed in an ambush, how much shouting has been done for that ? Where were all these armed chair critics ? Such “ honourable men “ they are.

It is expected that Army Commander and others will stand by their soldiers and not give in to any PRESSURE whatsoever. Let us stop saying that it was “ a Mass Murder”. Generally, over ground supporters of insurgents / terrorists do give such twists to the incidents. It could have been very much a group of insurgents, masking themselves amongst Civilians labourers. Question arises as to why the vehicle did not stop when signalled to do so? Was the driver forced to rush through by some top NSCN ( K ) leader in the vehicle who might have escaped ? Who was the man with the rifle ? Was he the body guard ? These questions need answers by a proper but dispassionate inquiry.

Let us remember, when one plays with fire, fingers will be burnt. Such incidents are normal by – Products in the fog of disturbed areas. Do not expect “ zero – defect” conduct from soldiers. They are human beings and to err was human. In fact, things point to the fact that SF showed maximum restraint when dealing with the Villagers who attacked them and even killed one of them and wounded the Commander. What is significant is the intention behind the incident, which was not Malafide. It was an error of judgment. What was to be noted as to what spurred this error of judgment? Definitely, it was non – stopping of the vehicle, when asked to stop.

Answer to this is the key to understand the “ Enforced Error”, deliberate or otherwise. Violent reaction of “Oting villagers” does suggest that insurgents were present in the village. Note the speed with which they gathered on the scene of incident. It definitely suggests that they had been egged on to do so. Incident does not seem to be purely “ mistaken” but a “manipulated enforced error”. There is a need to look below the surface, which might not be visible to naked eye.

Armed Forces are our defending Spear. India cannot afford to blunt the cutting edge of our Spear …that is the Special Forces.