Thu. Jan 20th, 2022

Prime Minister leads mass funeral service and demands repeal of a controversial law granting impunity to security forces.

India held “wrong” funeral rites for 15 civilians killed by his security forces in the northeastern state of Nagaland, amid intense security and sporadic internet disruptions aimed at dampening fresh unrest in the remote region.

Security and government officials say 14 members of the region’s dominant Konyak tribe and one security trooper were killed Saturday after forces in the border state “mistaken” a group of workers as armed fighters. opened fire.

Another member of the tribe was killed during protests on Sunday over military action, prompting the government to launch an investigation, while police and officials sharpened patrols ahead of the final rituals.

Hundreds of mourners laid wreaths on the coffins of the dead, standing on a public playground, while State Secretary Neiphiu Rio led a mass funeral service in the Mon district, the scene of the incident.

People attend the funeral of civilians killed by the Indian army in Mon, Nagaland State [Fifi Konyak/AP]

“The killing of innocent civilians is terrorism, we are Indians, not terrorists,” a poster read.

Indian Interior Minister Amit Shah will make a statement in parliament on Monday on security in Nagaland, where hundreds of security forces with automatic weapons continue to patrol the quiet Mon district.

The Indian army has expressed “deep regret” over the decline in intelligence, but state residents have demanded that its operations be stopped, with camps being relocated from civilian areas.

Police have filed a complaint against a paramilitary unit over the incident, saying there was no police guide or a request for one of security forces.

“Therefore, it is clear that the intention of security forces is to kill and injure civilians,” they said in the complaint, which was reviewed by the Reuters news agency.

Anger over the incident is increasing in Nagaland, where people have regularly accused security forces of mistakenly targeting innocent locals in counter-insurgency operations against rebel groups under the Armed Forces Special Forces Act (AFSPA).

In addition to extensive powers of search and arrest, the law is applied in parts of four of the seven northeastern states as well as Indian-administered Kashmir, allows Indian forces to make fire to maintain public order in areas designated as “disturbed areas”.

Nagaland is covered by the law as India says rebel groups work from thick jungles of an unfenced region that also stretches across the neighboring states of Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh, which borders Myanmar.

However, the state’s prime minister called the law draconian and demanded that it be removed.

“Today the whole world is criticizing AFSPA and now the government of Nagaland wants AFSPA withdrawn,” Neiphiu Rio said.

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