Rio Cabinet Calls Off Hornbill Fest

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HT Correspondent

Dimapur, Dec 7: In the aftermath of the killing of 14 villagers at Oting village in Mon district on December 4 and 5 by the security forces, the Nagaland cabinet on Tuesday decided to request the Government of India to repeal the Armed Forces (Special Power) Act (AFSPA) 1958 in Nagaland. The cabinet also called off the remaining four days of the ongoing Hornbill Festival at Kisama, which was scheduled to conclude on December 10.

Briefing media persons at the Nagaland civil secretariat in Kohima, state government spokesperson and planning minister Neiba Kronu said an emergency cabinet meeting was called on Tuesday to discuss the firing incident in Oting village and the subsequent incidents that followed in Mon town. He said that the cabinet had decided to write to the Government of India to immediately repeal the AFSPA in Nagaland.

He said the cabinet was briefed on the actions taken by the government, including setting up of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) headed by an IGP and consisting of four other members, on the incident.

Kronu said the cabinet decided that the SIT should complete its investigation and submit its report within one month.

He also said the cabinet has decided to support the demands put forward by the Konyak Union to President Ram Nath Kovind on the firing incident.

The Konyak Union in a letter to the President on Monday urged him to constitute a special investigation team under a competent investigating agency to conduct an independent inquiry into the killing of the 14 civilians and include two members from the Eastern Nagaland People’s Organization in the team.

The union also demanded identification of all army personnel involved in the incident and book them. It asked for sharing in the public domain the action taken against the erring personnel within one month.

It further demanded that the 27 Assam Rifles be immediately removed from Mon district for failing to provide security to the citizens and also immediately repeal AFSPA from the entire northeastern region.

The union declared non-cooperation to the Indian armed forces and announced seven-day public mourning in honour of the deceased across Mon district.

With regard to the ongoing Hornbill Festival, Kronu said the cabinet decided to cease all activities of the festival w.e.f. in view of the mourning announced for the deceased in the firing incident.

The cabinet also decided to appeal to all the legislators, government employees and others to support the entrepreneurs who have set up stalls for the Hornbill Festival by actively purchasing the items sold by them.

The cabinet has directed that a simple and solemn closing ceremony of the festival should be held by the tourism department on December 10.

Kronu said two of the injured are still in critical condition in Assam Medical College Hospital in Dibrugarh in Assam while six others are admitted to Christian Institute of Health Sciences and Research in Dimapur. Twenty-two injured people have been discharged, he added.

Commissioner and secretary for tourism I Kitto Zhimomi announced the cancellation of the festival at the venue at Kisama. He hoped that the cancellation of the festival because of the unfortunate firing incident will not discourage the tourists to come and visit Nagaland again. He urged the tourists to empathize with the people of Nagaland.

Stating that all festivities will cease from Tuesday, Zhimomi, however, said the food stalls and the stalls run by artisans and craftsmen will continue to remain open till December 10.

 

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