Assam Rifles Rejects Charges of Assaulting Civilians in Nagaland, Clarifies Arrest of NSCN(K-YA) Cadre
A civil society organisation had earlier alleged that two Assam Rifles personnel in civilian garb were found to be clicking photographs in the area, and on confrontation had engaged in a 'heated argument' with the locals.
Image for representative purposes. (Image: Reuters)
Guwahati: The Assam Rifles (AR) in Nagaland rejected accusations of assaulting locals in Zunheboto on August 7 and termed it a “malicious attempt” to defame the image of the paramilitary force deployed in the district.
The Zunheboto Sumi Totimi Hoho (ZSTH), a civil society organisation, had earlier alleged that two AR personnel in civilian garb were found to be clicking photographs in the area on Wednesday evening, and on confrontation had engaged in a “heated argument” with the locals.
The ZSTH also submitted a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner of Zunheboto, alleging that AR troopers had surrounded the area, “with cocked guns and started beating the youth mercilessly”. The Hoho stated that two youth – Arkha from Hekiye village, and Hito from Sukhalu village, who is also a tuberculosis patient – were “badly beaten up”.
A statement issued by the Defence PRO, Kohima, clarified that troops of Assam Rifles along with Nagaland police had launched an operation at around 5:30pm on August 7, based on specific input of presence of an armed cadre of the Yung Aung led faction of NSCN (K) in Project Colony area of Zunheboto.
The statement said that “on reaching the intended location it was observed that the locals, women included, were beating up an individual. The Assam Rifles troops then intervened to save this individual”.
The ZSTH memorandum by president Boholi Awomi and general secretary Hukashi R Awomi had stated that the two boys “beaten up” by AR personnel were “innocent residents of project colony”, and added that the womenfolk who intervened in their support and appealed to the security personnel not to hurt them further were also beaten up with “AK 47 and SLR butts”. The organisation said that at least four mothers – Vinitoli, Aboli, Lovikali and Shikali – were injured in the incident.
The ZSTH has demanded “unconditional apology” from the commandant of the particular AR unit on or before August 13, 2019, failing which they have threatened to hold a “shutter down agitation” in Zunheboto town.
The Assam Rifles maintained that the troops exercised absolute restraint and did not harm or assault anyone with rifle butts as alleged. The defence statement also said that on spotting the target cadre in the crowd, Hito Sumi was apprehended but the crowd had turned violent in their attempt to free the apprehended cadre from the AR custody.
Under those circumstances, the force said they exercised “absolute restraint”, and the troops managed to move the armed cadre away from the mob to a secure location. The individual was found to be in possession of a 9mm pistol. On interrogation, it was revealed that he was a self-styled captain of the NSCN(K-YA) faction. The statement read that the apprehended cadre was neither tortured nor ill-treated before being handed over to the Zunheboto Police Station.
“This has been confirmed by a doctor from the District Hospital at Zunheboto,” the AR statement said.
Assam Rifles noted that Hito Sumi is a brown sugar addict and a TB patient, and that after his arrest on August 7, he showed “withdrawal symptoms”, and had to be admitted for medical attention.
“Mr Hito is currently admitted in the hospital with police guard and is being treated for substance abuse addiction and tuberculosis ailment.”
A picture of Hito, claimed to be taken on August 10 at Zunheboto district hospital, was also released. “There are no marks of injury on him,” AR maintained.
According to the defence statement, “all operations by security forces in Nagaland are carried out in an ethical manner within strict rules and regulations that are in place, with utmost regard to human rights and safeguards” as enshrined by the law.
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