Kohima: The situation in Nagaland, where protests and rioting broke out after firing by security forces claimed 14 civilian lives, remained tense but calm on Tuesday as the state cabinet met and decided to write to the Centre demanding repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act.

The cabinet which met in an emergency sitting under the leadership of Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio on Tuesday also called off the ongoing Hornbill Festival in protest against the killing, state ministers said.

The 10-day Hornbill Festival, the state’s largest tourism extravaganza held at Naga Heritage Village in Kisama near state capital Kohima, was scheduled to end on December 10.

During the meeting, the cabinet was briefed about the action taken following the killing, including setting up of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) headed by an IGP rank officer and grant of ex-gratia to the next of kin of the deceased by the state and central governments, ministers Neiba Kronu and Temjen Imna Along later told reporters.

The cabinet has directed the SIT to complete the investigation within a month, they said.

Kronu said altogether 14 civilians have died in the incident, while two seriously-injured are undergoing treatment in neighbouring Assam, and six are being treated in Dimapur. The firing ook place in Oting-Tiru area on December 4 and Mon town on December 5.

“All activities of Hornbill Festival 2021 should cease in view of the mourning announced for the deceased in the firing incidents in Mon district,” Kronu said.

Officials said the situation in the state where people had taken to the streets in protest against the firing was “tense but calm”.

Chief minister Rio, while attending the funeral of the 14 civilians in Mon town on Monday, had joined a growing chorus of demands seeking the repeal of AFSPA that gives special powers to security forces in “disturbed areas”.

A report submitted to the state government on Sunday claimed the army made no attempt to ascertain the identity of the civilians returning from work on a pick-up truck before shooting them in Nagaland’s Mon district on Saturday.

Critics have maintained that the controversial law gives the armed forces to act with impunity, leading to human rights violations.

The joint report by the state’s Director General of Police T John Longkumer and Commissioner Rovilatuo Mor quoted eyewitnesses, who said the Army’s special forces tried to “hide” the bodies of six people by wrapping and loading them on a pick-up van with the intention of taking them to their base camp.

Mon killings: Nagas in Delhi show solidarity; seek AFSPA repeal

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