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New Delhi: The issue of the killing of at least 15 civilians by security forces in Nagaland figured prominently in both Houses of Parliament on Monday, with the opposition demanding a discussion. In the Rajya Sabha, leader of the opposition Mallikarjun Kharge of the Congress demanded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi be present and defence minister Rajnath Singh also make a statement on the firing episode.
Earlier in the day, the prime minister held a meeting with his senior ministers in the Parliament to discuss the incident. During the meeting, they also reportedly discussed the government’s strategy regarding the issue in both Houses.
Raising the issue in the Rajya Sabha, Kharge said the opposition was expecting home minister Amit Shah to give a statement on the incident and his views on the killings. “We demand that the home minister give his statement before both houses and give his detailed view on the incident. We’re expecting it. It’s a very sensitive incident. It shouldn’t have happened. He should answer why did it happen,” he said.
Incidentally, Shah is expected to make a statement in both Houses on the series of events that have led to the deaths of at least 16 people, including one soldier, in the restive state.
On December 4, six civilians, who worked in a coal mine, were killed in an ambush by security forces between Tiru and Oting village in the Mon district while they were returning home in an open vehicle.
Subsequently, a report by the Nagaland police had stated that these six men who were “unarmed… travelling in an open Mahindra pick-up in broad daylight” had died in the initial firing.
Thereafter, eight more persons were killed when the villagers from nearby areas confronted the security forces over the issue. A police report said the security forces were “wrapping… the dead bodies in tarpaulin sheets to take back to their base camp,” when the protesting public reached the site.
Five of these civilians were reportedly killed as the security forces fired in “self-defence”. Seven members of the security forces sustained injuries in the violence and one of them later succumbed to the injuries.
While in the Rajya Sabha, Rashtriya Janata Dal leader (RJD) leader Manoj Jha and Trinamool Congress MP Sukhendu Sekhar Roy gave a suspension notice over the Nagaland killings, in the Lok Sabha, Congress MPs Gaurav Gogoi and Manickam Tagor, and TRS MP Nama Nageswara Rao, were among those who gave adjournment notices over the issue.
In his notice, Gogoi wrote about the “tragic and unfortunate manner in which 15 Indian civilians were shot dead and another 11 civilians were severely injured in Mon district over the last two days”.
He claimed the “local armed forces unit mistook a group of coal miners for members of an underground insurgent group and opened fire at their vehicle, killing six on board”. Later in the evening, Gogoi said, “seven more civilians and a soldier died when the local villages clashed with the troops.”
Appealing to all sections of society to maintain peace, he said, “This can only happen if truth and justice is delivered by the Union home ministry in an expedient manner.” He also added that the killings “on the basis of inaccurate intelligence inputs” were highly condemnable.
Meanwhile, the Rajya Sabha was adjourned twice as the opposition members continued with their protest over the suspension of 12 MPs. The opposition termed the suspension as “undemocratic and in violation of all the Rules of Procedure” of the upper house.
The opposition MPs also staged a protest near Mahatma Gandhi’s statue in the Parliament complex over the issue. They also raised slogans against the “autocratic style” of functioning of the government in the matter.
— Ruchira Chaturvedi (@RuchiraC) December 6, 2021
Tharoor not to host show in Sansad TV
Meanwhile, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor had decided not to host the ‘To The Point’ talk show for Sansad TV until the suspension of the dozen Rajya Sabha members is revoked.
“As an MP who has gone every morning to greet the protestors and express my solidarity with them, I am concerned that my continued involvement in hosting a show on Sansad TV would be seen as making me complicit in the undemocratic manner in which Parliamentary institutions are being run,” Tharoor said, according to Indian Express.
The Thiruvananthapuram MP’s decision comes a day after Shiv Sena Rajya Sabha MP Priyanka Chaturvedi – who is among the 12 who have been suspended – decided to step down as the host of Sansad TV’s ‘Meri Kahaani’.
She said, “I believe it is my duty that when today the highest number of women MPs have been suspended in the recorded history of Rajya Sabha for an entire session for speaking up for the people of this country then I need to speak up for them.”