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The intelligence proved to be unintelligent, and the action following it even worse. As a rule of thumb, the state forces involved in counter-insurgency operations do not shoot to kill unless they are attacked first and have to shoot in self-defence. This operation looks like it was completely botched up, but who will be held accountable? The colonial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) imposed in Nagaland, Manipur and Assam give the armed forces who assist the state police in CI-Ops complete immunity from prosecution. Without the AFSPA as a shield, the Army would not agree to operate in a “Disturbed Area”.
There was a hue and cry when the farmers were run over by Ashish Misra, son of Ajay Kumar Mishra. Will the country rise as one to protest this killing of 14 unarmed civilians by state forces? Or will this be another forgotten story, since it happened in the last frontiers of India, frontiers it is trying to control with an iron hand?
The Assam Rifles, a paramilitary force, is always headed by military officers, although it is administered by the Ministry of Home Affairs. Anyone who has visited Nagaland or Manipiur will see the slogans, “Friends of the Hill People” and “the Sentinels of the Northeast” emblazoned atop the Assam Rifles gates. But after what happened on Saturday at Oting in Mon District, where the friends of the Northeast actually gunned down 14 defenceless labourers, should make our blood boil.
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