Itanagar: Two suspected insurgents of National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM) were killed, while one was injured in an anti-militancy operation by security forces in Arunachal Pradesh’s Tirap district on Sunday.
The incident took place near Old Kolagaon village, around 25-30 km from Khonsa, the headquarters of Tirap district.
A senior Assam Rifles official, on the condition of anonymity, told EastMojo, “Based on inputs received from sources about the movement of NSCN-IM cadres, the security forces intercepted around 5 people in the jungle area between Old and New Kolagaon villages around 11 am on Sunday.”
The insurgents were armed with assault rifles, the official said.
“When our team asked them to surrender, they fired upon us, so we had to retaliate in which two of them got killed and one sustained injuries. One of the deceased is a self-styled corporal of the NSCN-IM,” an official said.
While one of the insurgents fled the spot, security forces managed to apprehend a self-styled private of the underground outfit and he has been sent to police custody.
“The one injured has been referred to a hospital in Assam for treatment,” a source said.
The encounter also led to the recovery of a huge cache of arms and ammunition, including one AK 56 rifle with a magazine, one 5.56 mm M4 A-1 Carbine made in the US, one 32mm Pistol, a huge cache of ammunition and other warlike stores from the encounter site.
Local residents, however, alleged that one of the men killed in the incident – Retto Kakho – and the one injured – Pakngam Lowang – are civilians and have no association with the banned outfit.
“Kakho is a former panchayat leader of Old Kolagaon village and a public leader. He has no association with NSCN and neither does Lowang,” a local resident told EastMojo.
The All Tirap District Students’ Union (ATDSU) general secretary Priyang Pumoh said according to the family members of the deceased, Khako and Lowang were forcefully picked up by the NSCN-IM to act as local guides for them.
“They were forced to lead the way for the insurgents and they had no other option other than to oblige at gunpoint. One of them, unfortunately, got killed in the process, while the other is under treatment at a hospital in Assam,” Pumoh said.
Condemning the incident, a 12-hour bandh was also enforced in the Tirap district by the ATDSU and other students organizations on Monday while massive protest rallies were held in Khonsa and Deomali.
The protests were also joined by members of All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union and the North East Students’ Organization.
Pumoh said a 4-point memorandum seeking compensation for Kakho’s family, education assistance for his children, etc., was also submitted to the Assam Rifles CO on Monday.
Meanwhile, Assam Rifles officials, in reply to the claims of Kakho and Lowang being civilians, said the matter is being investigated.
“If they were civilians then why were they moving with the armed group in the middle of the jungle? Normally, the ones who help the insurgents are considered as over ground workers. We shall, however, wait for the inquiry report before making any comments,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Tirap district administration has ordered a magisterial inquiry into the incident.
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