The local and regional media of Nagaland continues to target the Army and the Assam Rifles (AR) with vengeance for the violence in Mon district on December 4 and 5. Ironically the mainstream print media too is only repeating the joint statement by Rovilatuo Mor, IAS, Commissioner, Nagaland and T John Longkurmer, IPS, DG Police Nagaland on December 5, both of whom have to save their own skin for their inaction, as well as the FIR filed by the Nagaland police. This is not surprising because the media houses have their roots abroad and attacking the Armed Forces is part of their agenda to weaken India. But more details of the happenings are seeping out. Ironically, not one media outlet has bothered to highlight the restraint that our forces displayed during these two days of violence
On the evening of December 4, 21 PARA (SF) laid an ambush near Tiru village in Tizit area (Mon district) on specific inputs about movement of insurgents given to the Army. It is not known who was behind these so-called specific inputs – Nagaland Chief Minister, Commissioner or Director General of Police. A vehicle approaching the ambush was signaled to stop but it tried to flee and fire was opened suspecting insurgents killing six out of eight persons in the vehicle. But they turned out to be coal miners.
21 PARA (SF) was in the process of evacuating the two injured civilians when a large mob of villagers surrounded them, attacked them and burned their vehicles. One soldier of 21 PARA (SF) was shot and attacked with a dah on his head – he died on the spot. 14 soldiers of 21 PARA (SF) including one officer were injured. The 21 PARA (SF) team was forced to open fire in order to get away but they did evacuate the two injured civilians in the initial firing along with them to medical facilities. 21 PARA (SF) was forced to open fire which resulted in the killing of seven civilians (how many insurgents?) and injuries to some.
In their joint statement, Mor and Longkurmer have accused 21 PARA (SF) of killing unarmed civilians at random without any attempt for identification. They further say when villagers (number deliberately not mentioned) came to the spot, they found the Special Forces personnel trying to hide the bodies of the killed civilians and that Special Forces again opened indiscriminate fire killing seven more villagers before fleeing from the scene and that two of the seriously injured civilians were taken to Assam side by the Special Forces.
A FIR was registered in Tizit Police Station alleging that 21 PARA (SF) opened fire blankly and with the intention of murdering and injuring civilians – killing 13 civilians and injuring some others. This obviously was with the concurrence of Longkurmer and Mor.
The Army has already regretted the incident. However, the manner in which the events unfolded stinks of a deeper conspiracy; inputs about movement of the insurgents by the local police, the driver of the vehicle speeding away instead of stopping and the spin doctoring by Longkurmer and Mor. Why would 21 PARA (SF) try to hide the bodies and evacuate the two injured instead of killing all and leaving no witnesses? The villagers who attacked them were obviously armed seeing the wounds on the killed and wounded of Special Forces – why did Longkurmer and Mor not mention this? If intention of security forces was to murder and injure civilians, why would they only kill seven of the mob that surrounded them and suffer one killed and 14 wounded? Why was the police missing from the scene?
On the evening of December 5, a 500-600-strong armed mob (though not with firearms) attacked the 27 AR post in Mon town. They began ransacking and burning the buildings systematically starting with the office and residence of the Commanding Officer; apparently as per a pre-planned design. A total of 26 buildings were burned down – even the BaniaShop was completely destroyed. The post had some 182 AR personnel; all armed with AK-47 assault rifles. They could have easily stopped the mob while the police remained bystanders. Eventually the AR had to resort to firing when the mob went for the ammunition storage and the kote where balance weapons and accessories were held. As a result one civilian was killed and six others injured.
The joint statement by Mor and Longkurmer signed on December 5, says that a mob of around 600-700 people armed with sticks, pipes, flammable fluids and some of them carrying machetes or daos, a sharp edged weapon used by the locals, went to the 27 AR post. After almost an hour into the melee, the second round of continuous firing by the Assam Rifles resulted in the mob running for safety. After the firing ceased, a protester from Chi village was confirmed dead on the spot and six others sustained bullet injuries. There is no mention whatsoever that the mob burned down 26 buildings of 27 AR and attempted to loot weapons and ammunition from the kote. Even the TV channels only showed 2-3 buildings burning. No FIR was filed against any of the mob leaders.
Mor and Longkurmer apparently are of the same genre as the then DC Kupwarain January 1991 who had signed a FIR himself in the infamous KunanPoshpora case alleging that the Army had raped 100 women including an 80-year old. The FIR was signed seven days after the village KunanPoshpora was searched on information about presence of terrorist. Whether the then DC Kupwara was in league with the terrorists, paid by them or blackmailed remains unknown. Mor and Longkurmersimilarly could not be without insurgent links considering the narcotics trade and all the illegal activities in Nagaland. That is the reason they did not impose prohibitory orders on December 4 itself despite the killing of 13 civilians and allowed the gathering of a 600-700 strong mob to attack 27 AR next evening.
The civilian deaths on December 4 would have been restricted to six had the villagers mob not surrounded and attacked the Special Forces. The latter still showed restraint in not opening up with their automatics in the course of breaking the cordon; themselves suffering one killed and 14 injured in the process. There would have been no more civilian casualties if the mob had not attacked them. The Special Forces personnel would have been annihilated had they not fired when surrounded and attacked by the mob; though in the latter case too Mor and Longkurmer would have invented another cock and bull story had this happened putting the entire blame on the Special Forces.
Which force of any country will not open fire when 26 buildings in their post are burned down by armed hooligans? It is to the credit of 27 AR that they did not kill many of the attackers, which possibly included insurgents also? Mor and Longkurmer referring to them merely as “protesters” indicates their debauchery. Can forces of any other country display such remarkable restraint when under attack?
The public would understand the circumstances of the above incidents, the environment under which our forces are operating, and the unparalleled restraint they showed in use of force. Unfortunately, for the local politicians, bureaucrats and police they are only a hindrance in their pursuit of power, and turning a blind eye to illegal activities. This ironically is unlikely to change given the quality and pursuits of these individuals plus the corruption embedded in the system.