Six tribes decide to withdraw from Hornbill Festival after an alleged operation by the armed forces
Armed forces personnel allegedly killed 13 civilians – all coal miners — in an “ambush” in Nagaland’s Mon district on December 4 evening, local organisations said.
There was no official confirmation about the incident or the number of people killed. Neither the district authorities nor the officials of the armed forces were available for comment.
Locals said para commandos are believed to have mistaken the victims as members of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Khaplang-Yung Aung) and ambushed them.
The incident took place between Tiru, a coal mining area, and Oting, the village of the victims. The distance between the two places is about 15 km.
A leader of the Konyak Hoho, the apex body of the Konyak Naga community, said the victims were returning home from the coal mine in a pick-up van. The miners have been coming home every Saturday to spend Sunday with members of their families before reporting for duty on Monday.
“Six people lost their lives on December 4 evening and seven succumbed to their injuries on December 5 morning. So far, 13 people have died and 11 others are injured while two are reported missing,” the leader, who visited the spot after the incident, said on condition of anonymity.
The bodies were being taken to district headquarters Mon for autopsy.
Local organisations have demanded action against the guilty personnel and threatened to approach national and international human rights organisations. Members of the victims’ families refused to receive their bodies if justice is not delivered fast.
Reacting to the incident, the Eastern Nagaland People’s Organisation (ENPO) announced the withdrawal of six tribes it represents from the annual Hornbill Festival ongoing at Kisama near State capital Kohima.
The ENPO had a few months ago adopted a resolution against bloodshed in its area.
“How can we dance at the festival when our people are getting killed?” the ENPO said in a statement.