GUWAHATI: The Army on Saturday said it is monitoring how the amended standard operating procedures (SOPs) are being followed by its troops during counter-insurgency operations in the Northeast. Certain amendments were made to the SOPs in the aftermath of the December 4, 2021 botched ambush at Oting in Nagaland’s Mon district.
The elite Para commandos had carried out the operation that left 13 civilians and a personnel dead. The civilians were mistaken for militants. Eastern Army Commander Lt Gen Rana Pratap Kalita told reporters in Guwahati that immediately after the incident, the Army authorities analysed the mistakes internally and reviewed the conduct of operation in those areas comprehensively.
“Whatever necessary amendments had to be done to the SOPs and the rules and provisions for the conduct of operations not only in Nagaland but also Manipur, southern Arunachal, and upper Assam were put in place. Now, we are following up on how the troops are following the amended SOPs to carry out operations. I am sure they are being strictly followed by all the troops,” Lt Gen Kalita said.
He said a court of inquiry was conducted soon after the incident. However, because of the stay order passed by the Supreme Court, the proceedings had been stayed completely. That’s where the situation is as far as the Army inquiry is concerned, he said.
In July last year, the Supreme Court had stayed criminal proceedings against the 30 personnel who were involved in the operation after noting that previous sanction as required under Section 6 of the Armed Forces (Special 4 Powers) Act, 1958, had not been obtained.
This followed two petitions, filed by the wives of the Army officers named in the case, seeking the quashing of an FIR lodged by the Nagaland Police. The Nagaland Police had charge sheeted 30 personnel after a probe by a special investigation team. Charges of murder and culpable homicide not amounting to murder were slapped on them.
Last year, the Nagaland Police had approached the Ministry of Defence seeking sanction to prosecute the personnel but it was denied.“…the competent authority (Department of Military Affairs, Ministry of Defence, Government of India) has conveyed its denial to accord sanction for prosecution against all the 30 accused,” the Nagaland Police said recently.