The National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Isak Muivah on Wednesday said no peace talks were possible 'under the shadow' of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act and termed Union home minister Amit Shah's statement in Parliament on the botched counter-insurgency operation as 'irresponsible'.
This comes on the heels of a statement by Oting villagers where they claimed the army shot to kill villagers without ascertaining their identity and tried to dress them in fatigues in a bid to pass them off as militants after a botched up ambush.
'No political talks will be meaningful under the shadow of AFSPA. Let human dignity take control and be made an integral part of the Naga political peace process,' the NSCN-IM said in a statement in Dimapur.
The strongly worded statement of NSCN-IM, the principal negotiators in the Naga political dialogue with the Centre, also condemned the Union home minister Amit Shah's statement in the Parliament on the killing of at least 13 coal mine labourers in Oting village of Mon district on December 4.
The NSCN statement claimed 'truth be told there was no signal to stop the pick-up van of the coal laborers as mentioned by Amit Shah in Parliament'.
The statement quoted one of the survivors, Sheiwang who is undergoing treatment at the Assam Medical College and Hospital in Dibrugarh, stating, 'they shot right at us, no signal to stop, we did not flee'.
'Unfortunately, the Oting's killing has become a threat to the Nagas' longing for Naga political solution,' the NSCN-IM said.
'In a situation like this, Amit Shah was expected to show political maturity and practical statesmanship in order to cool down the socio-political upheavals. Ironically, he poured fuel to the burning issue by standing behind the Para Commandos,' the former rebel group said.
They described this as 'like rubbing salt and chili in the wounds of the Nagas'.
The NSCN-IM said that there is nothing to doubt that it was a botched ambush with a deliberate mission to kill and nothing to do with 'credible' intelligence of NSCN movement in the area.
'Nothing can be far from the truth that it was something executed deliberately,' the statement said.
The NSCN-IM argued that if the government of India wants 'to do justice to the Naga people, AFSPA must be immediately withdrawn' and investigation for proper prosecution of those responsible immediately constituted.
The NSCN-IM said what is most sinister is when the Army was found stripping naked the dead bodies of the Naga civilians with military dress to give the impression in the eyes of the media that these were militants.
'Luckily, they were caught red handed by the villagers before they succeeded through their plan,' the statement said.
An official statement made by the government on Monday had said that based on inputs received by the Indian Army about movement of the insurgents near Tiru village in Mon district, a team of para-commandos laid an ambush on Saturday.
During the operation, the government's statement made by the home minister in Parliament said: 'A vehicle approached the location and it was signaled to stop. However, the vehicle tried to flee, following which the vehicle, suspected of carrying insurgents, was fired upon resulting in killing of 6 out of 8 persons travelling in the vehicle. However, it turned out to be a case of mistaken identity.'
The NSCN-IM claimed AFSPA, which gives powers of arrest and detention to the armed forces, 'has given the Indian security forces the license to shoot and kill anyone on mere suspicion'.
'The Nagas have had the bitter taste of this act on numerous occasions and it has spilled enough blood. Blood and political talks cannot go together,' the statement said.
The NSCN-IM has been engaged in negotiations with the Centre for a solution to the decades old Naga political issue since 1997 while the Framework Agreement was signed between them in August 2015.
However, no solution has been achieved with the former remaining adamant on its demand for a separate flag and constitution of the Nagas.