Oting massacre: People hoist black flags, demand justice for victims 

The army had gunned down coal miners near the Oting village on December 4, 2021, mistaking them for "militants."

Published: 03rd December 2022 01:25 PM  |   Last Updated: 05th December 2022 01:07 AM   |  A+A-

People attend a mass funeral of civilians killed by the Army in a case of mistaken identity, in Mon district of Nagaland. (File Photo | PTI)

Express News Service

GUWAHATI: 62-year-old Leang Konyak has not gone out much since her twins – Langwang and Thapwang Konyak (25) – were gunned down by security forces last year. Justice for her is not something she can count on. Leang now spends most of her time tending to her ailing husband, according to a report in EastMojo.

“In the evening, when it is time for people to return home from the fields, I would cry as I sit outside and wait for my sons to return,” Leang told EastMojo. “Even the sound of the church bell and people singing at the church makes me cry as I am reminded of her sons. They were active members of the church,” the 62-year-old was quoted as saying.

“Other people lost one person from their families. I lost two sons at once. But what’s done cannot be undone. My only wish now is to be buried next to my sons when I die, she said.

First Anniversary

On the eve of the first anniversary of the massacre by the army in Nagaland’s Mon district, the Konyak Union (KU) on Saturday chose to remind people in power that justice was not delivered to the victims even after the Special Investigation Team (SIT) filed a chargesheet naming 30 Army personnel, including a Major, as accused. 

The Para commandos had gunned down six coal miners near the Oting village on December 4 last year after “mistaking” them for militants. Seven other civilians and a Para commando were killed within hours at the same place when the villagers retaliated. Another villager was killed the next day in Mon town when Assam Rifles personnel opened fire after their camp had come under an attack from a mob.

The army personnel opened fire on the workers who were returning home from a coal mine in a mini truck. The Army personnel had laid a trap following reports about the movement of militants.

The KU expressed resentment that the central government has not yet granted sanctions for the prosecution of the guilty personnel.

“The state government constituted the SIT. It conducted a probe and filed the chargesheet but the central government has not granted sanction to prosecute the culprits or book them,” KU vice president HA Hongnao Konyak told this newspaper.

“Since they were not punished, the families have not got justice,” he said, adding, “The Army also conducted an internal probe. We don’t know what happened to it.”

As justice has been denied to the families, every household across the six districts of eastern Nagaland – Mon, Kiphire, Longleng, Noklak, Shamator and Tuensang – held a black flag protest on Sunday and Monday.

“People hoisted black flags outside their houses, public places and the offices of civil society organisations across the ENPO (Eastern Nagaland People’s Organisation) areas,” HA Hongnao Konyak, who is the KU vice president, told The New Indian Express.

Earlier, the ENPO, which is the apex tribal body of eastern Nagaland, had called for the black flag protest. A candlelight vigil was also organised at the Konyak Community Centre in Mon in memory of the victims. 

In Oting, the villagers organised a get-together to remember the victims. 

“The world may forget but we remember how you were killed by Indian 21 Para special forces on this day. May you all rest in peace!” a poster, which had the photos and the names of the 14 villagers killed, read.

Meanwhile, church and civil society leaders will attend a prayer meeting being organised at the office of the KU on Monday. People in Tizit will observe a two-hour bandh. Oting falls under Tizit.

The KU will build a “Martyrs’ Park” with donations from public in Mon town in memory of the victims. The state government has already provided with land for the purpose.

“We have received an instruction from the ENPO (Eastern Nagaland People’s Organisation, the apex tribal body of the region) for the black flag protest,” the KU vice president said.

 Army vehicles burnt down by villagers after the Oting killings.(File | Photo)

The KU will build a “Martyrs’ Park” with donations from the public in Mon town in memory of the victims. The state government has already provided with land for the purpose. 

ALSO READ | Nagaland firing: Eerie calm in Oting a week after killing by security forces

During the course of the investigation, the SIT visited Jorhat in Assam and grilled the personnel who had taken part in the operation. It had also visited the site of incident multiple times.

(With inputs from Online Desk)



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