Nagaland Congress president K Therie, on Thursday, squarely blamed chief minister Neiphiu Rio for the Oting massacre in Mon district earlier this month. 

Briefing the media, Therie said, “It is ploy to derail the peace process.”   

He added that the state government wanted to derail the peace process because Rio wanted to fish in troubled waters. 

Therie questioned as to why commandos of 21 Para Special Force, which is based in Jorhat in Assam under Army’s 4 Corps, was brought for the attack when Nagaland falls under the jurisdiction of 3 Corps of the Army. 

“Nothing can happen in the state without the knowledge of the chief minister and home minister as the law and order is a state subject,” he said.  

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He added that it is the responsibility of the state government to protect and provide security to the life and property of the people. 

According to Therie, it is only through the requisition of the CM, that paratroopers can be deployed. 

Therie said the firing happened at around 4 pm on December 4 and that the Oting villagers informed the Mon SP about it immediately but they were told not to go to the spot.  

It was around 7.20 pm when the villagers went in search of their village youths who went to work at a coal mine in Tiru village, he stated. 

“What was the administration doing in these over three hours,” Therie asked. He said it was a complete failure of the administration. 

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Therie, who went to Oting village to attend the funeral of the firing victims along with his team, said, “In our assessment, we find that the state government is solely responsible for the loss of 15 lives, including one Army personnel.”   

He also accused Rio of misleading Union home minister Amit Shah to state in Parliament that the vehicle carrying the coal miners was fired upon when it tried to flee.   

Therie alleged that Rio, ‘who is hand-in-glove with NSCN-IM general secretary Th Muivah’, does not want settlement of the Naga political problem.  

Both Rio and Muivah have been successful in transferring the Government of India’s former interlocutor for Naga talks RN Ravi, who was also Nagaland Governor, he said. 

The Pradesh Congress chief said Rio wants to take shelter and hide under the Armed Forces (Special Power) Act.  

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“What was he doing in the last 18 years since he took over as Nagaland CM? Why he did not move for repeal of AFSPA?” Therie questioned. 

When pointed out that Rio has been vociferous in demanding repeal of AFSPA since the Oting incident and has also called a special session of the Assembly on December 20, Therie asked why he has questioned the Government of India and the military about the incident. 

He said a Congress delegation comprising AICC general secretary Jitendra Singh, Lok Sabha MP Gaurav Gogoi and AICC general secretary in-charge of Nagaland Ajoy Kumar who were coming to Oting village to get a first-hand information of the incident was stopped at Jorhat airport on December 8 at the behest of the Nagaland government.  

“What was Rio trying to hide,” Therie asked. 

He said for the state Congress, the AFSPA is not at all necessary in Nagaland as all the Naga political groups are under ceasefire with the Government of India while all other citizens are peace-loving people. 

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Therie also said the state Congress sent a representation to President Ram Nath Kovind on Wednesday demanding setting up of an all-party parliamentary committee to probe the Oting incident, arrest of the culprits and implementation of political settlement of the Naga problem under President’s rule in the state. 

Bhadra Gogoi

Bhadra Gogoi is Northeast Now Correspondent in Nagaland. He can be reached at: bhadragogoi@yahoo.com