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IndiaExplainer: All you need to know about the Nagaland Ambush

Explainer: All you need to know about the Nagaland Ambush

Published: 9th Dec 2021 3:12 pm

Hyderabad: A military operation that went awfully awry has now brought the powers exercised by security forces under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) back in focus.

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What happened?

In the evening hours of December 4, a group of soldiers said to be the 21 Para Regiment misjudged some civilians as militants who belonged to the National Socialist Council of Nagaland. The security forces opened fire at eight mine workers who were returning home in a truck on the Tiru-Oting road of Mon Town in Nagaland.

Six men died on the spot and two others were severely wounded. Upon hearing gunfire, villagers from nearby areas rushed to the spot and recognised the victims. The situation turned violent with angry locals attacking the security forces, who again opened fire as part of self-defence, which resulted in the death of seven more civilians and leaving 12 injured. An Assam Rifle officer was also killed in the incident.

What’s the AFSPA Act?

The Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958 came into force after State governments found it difficult to handle increasing violence in Northeastern states.

The act empowers the Armed Forces to maintain public order in “disrupted areas”. They have the sole authority to prohibit the gathering of five or more people at one place and they may also use force or open fire after giving appropriate warning if someone is felt breaking the law. If there is reasonable suspicion, the army may arrest the person without a warrant and also ban possession of firearms.

The person arrested may be further handed over in the nearby police station along with a report detailing the circumstances leading to his arrest.

The National Socialist Council of Nagaland

Operates mainly in the northeast of India. The NSCN is a Naga nationalist group. The group works with the motto of building a separate sovereign Naga state.

After the incident, in a statement the NSCN said it had restrained itself from conducting operations against “the sadistic occupiers in the Indian Military, keeping in mind the wishes of our people who are in the quest for a peaceful atmosphere.”

The Indian army has released a statement expressing deep regret over the “unfortunate loss of lives” in the security operation that went awry, adding that the matter will be investigated at the “highest level”.

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