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India's police have charged 30 troops with killing six tribal labourers

Image: Reuters Berita 24 English -   Police in the northern Indian state of Nagaland have charged 30 troops with killing six tribal labourer...

Image: Reuters

Berita 24 English -  Police in the northern Indian state of Nagaland have charged 30 troops with killing six tribal labourers misidentified as insurgents during an anti-insurgency operation last year.

"Investigations indicated that the operation team did not adhere to normal operating procedure and rules of engagement," Nagaland police chief T.J. Longkumer told reporters in the capital city of Dimapur, adding that army personnel employed "disproportionate firing."

The police investigation was initiated after thirteen members of the region's mainly Konyak tribe and one security officer were killed in December of last year when border state defence forces mistaken the group of labourers for Myanmar-bound insurgents and opened fire.

Six coal miners returning from work were slain in the Mon district of Oting, Nagaland. Infuriated by the discovery of the bullet-riddled remains of the labourers on an army vehicle, the villagers clashed with the soldiers, killing seven people.

One security officer was also slain during the conflict.

"The sanction for prosecution is still pending," Longkumer said, adding that an indictment has been filed against the 30 accused military officers.

An Indian army official was not immediately available for comment. According to a defence ministry official in New Delhi, the case has been sent to Indian courts for a final decision.

Thousands of army officers are stationed in the country's northeast, which is home to a complicated web of tribal communities, many of which have launched insurgency and separatist operations against New Delhi, accusing it of stealing resources and doing little to improve their lives.

The Armed Forces Powers Act (AFSPA) grants the armed forces broad authority to search, arrest, and open fire if they believe it necessary in "disturbed regions." Immediately following the killings, protests intensified in opposition to the AFSPA.

The Act remains in effect in Mon.

Several regions of seven northeastern states have been designated as "disturbed areas" in accordance with the AFSPA.

Beginning in 2015, the federal government completely withdrew AFSPA from Tripura and Meghalaya, and partially lifted it from Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Nagaland, and Manipur.

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