The death of Nagaland civilians after a security operation reportedly went awry near the Myanmar border area Saturday has prompted strong reactions from public speakers, journalists and activists making their views on the matter known on social media. In a case of “mistaken identity,” six coal mine workers travelling in Mon district were killed in what was supposed to be a counter-insurgency attack by the Indian Army.
Retaliatory violence in the state has taken the total death toll to 15, as per reports, including 14 civilians and one security personnel. Certain reports unofficially put the number of deaths at 17. Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code(CrPc) has been imposed in Mon, prohibiting non-essential vehicular movement and gatherings of five or more people at a time.
“Based on credible intelligence of likely movement of insurgents, a specific operation was planned to be conducted in the area of Tiru, Mon District, Nagaland,” the Army said in a statement following the violence.
They have expressed regret over the incident, which is being probed “at the highest level,” they said. A Special Investigation Team (SIT) was formed by the Nagaland government to investigate the case and Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio has called for public calm.
Rio has also appealed to the centre to remove the stringent Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) functional in Nagaland, adding it has “blackened the image of our country.” Home Minister Amit Shah is expected to issue a statement on the killings in Parliament on Monday.
What is being deemed a serious intelligence failure has drawn huge public outcry, with citizens condemning the firing and pushing for urgent action, highlighting the drawbacks of the presence of security forces in civilian areas.
“#AFSPA is a gun directed at our homes. Any day, sounds will erupt and we would know we are one man less and another man less and another. We cannot continue to celebrate our identity, when it caused the death of our own. End all other songs, we chant our songs of mourning,” Sekulu Nyekha, youth leader and poet from Dimapur, Nagaland, wrote on Twitter.
“One aspect that rarely finds mention is the many children who grow up with PTSD in AFSPA-imposed states,” activist and former student leader Angellica Aribam, who hails from the state of Manipur that borders Nagaland, said. “My parents sent me away to Delhi even before I was a teenager so that I could live in an environment with some semblance of normalcy.”
Many on social media are rallying for AFSPA to be revoked with the ‘repeal AFSPA’ hashtag.
“The stench of death. Kashmir to Nagaland,” tweeted journalist Harinder Baweja after reports of the killings emerged.
Journalist Rana Ayyub tweeted, “Do human lives have any value left in this land of lawlessness and impunity. Cold blooded murder by security forces from Kashmir to Nagaland,” tagging the United Nations’ Human Rights office.