A Year After, Oting Still Yearns for Justice

ARENJUNGLA KICHU| Mokokchung | December 3

 

 

“Ex-gratia and a job were awarded. We did not ask for it. From the beginning, we only wanted to know why innocent people were killed while returning home happily singing Christmas songs,” a heartbroken Chemwang Konyak, who lost his son Shomwang Konyak, who was planning to marry, told Mokokchung Times.

 

The tragic incident – not just the six coal miners who were shot dead by Para Special Forces personnel of the Indian Army in a botched security operation in the cold night of December 4, 2021, but also the event that followed where villagers went to the site upon hearing gunshots only to find dead bodies under a tarpaulin in a ‘Tata Mobile’ pickup; for military personnel to only fire indiscriminately at the innocent villagers, killing seven more on the spot and another the next day when a violent protest broke out – still haunts the family, the villagers of Oting and all sensible Nagas.

 

 

 

Now, a year after the tragedy, as the rest of Nagaland, with the exception of Eastern Nagaland, is immersed in the spirit of the state’s largest festival, the Hornbill Festival, the villagers of Oting are preparing to commemorate the first death anniversary of the fourteen departed souls in the village football ground, following a visit to the cemetery.

 

“Because it has been one year since the tragedy, our family will attend the first anniversary program. But we are not happy. We want to know who is right and who is wrong. Justice has yet to be served,” Chemwang said.

 

“We are outraged that the blood of good souls was thrown into the jungle in such a manner. Many Nagas have died in this manner across the region. Nagas are not animals, they are not piglets, they are humans born from humans,” father of Late Shomwang added.

 

“Around 30 youths in our village have been injured; some have even lost their eyesight – I just hope the Nagas will help us because we are all Nagas. I once considered looking for the best advocates to help me get to the bottom of truth. I am not saying I can win this fight alone. But I cannot win this battle by myself. The Konyak Union must help me, the Nagas must help me, because we are all Nagas.”

 

It may be recalled that the Nagaland special investigation team (SIT) in June named 30 security forces personnel in the chargesheet for the killing of 13 civilians in the Tiru-Oting area. However, the chargesheet was filed with a ‘pending sanction’ for prosecution because the central government has yet to grant ‘prosecution sanction’ to the 30 soldiers named in the SIT’s chargesheet, despite the fact that a year has passed since the incident.

 

On the delay of justice, Longwang, who is the Chairman of the Oting Village Council, told Mokokchung Times, “People who have died have died. But where is the justice? We are not happy at all. Injured people are still grieving.”

 

It was also revealed that the victims’ families had only received the first installment of the ex—gratia, while government services were provided to the families of the deceased.

 

“There has been no word on compensation for the injured… but what demands can we make? If we make a demand, it will appear as if we are making a demand for ourselves,” the Chairman added helplessly.

 

Longwang added his thoughts on AFSPA, saying, “The irony is that the incident occurred in Oting. Because of the incident in this village, the demand for the repeal of AFSPA began. But AFSPA was repealed elsewhere, but not here!”

 

Longwang stated, as if losing hope in achieving justice, “Media comes and goes, but justice has not been served. It serves no purpose to air our grievances with the media or the government. Even if we cry, it has no meaning,” a broken-hearted Longwang explained.

 

“We are all children of Nagaland,” he said, urging the government to take up the fight for justice.

 

“If the hearts of those in power are not breaking, I don’t see how we, the villagers here, will see justice.”

 

 

 

NSF Urges GoI for Justice

Kohima, December 3 (MTNews): The Naga Students’ Federation (NSF) while offering homage to the departed souls who were brutally massacred by the Indian armed forces at Tiru/Oting village area under Mon district on December 4 last year has demanded the government of India to deliver justice for the victims and that the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) be repealed.

 

The NSF said that it vehemently condemns the “cowardly act” of the Indian Armed forces shielded by the AFSPA regime which it said have been causing terror in the hearts and minds of the Naga people for the past several decades.

 

“We demand to the Government of India that justice be delivered to the victims and family members of the gruesome Oting incident and to all the pending cases related to the excesses committed by the Indian armed forces without further ado,” the NSF said through a press release on Saturday.

 

The Federation also said that it sees no rationale as to why the Naga homeland within India is tagged as “disturbed areas” and the repressive AFSPA is thrust upon its people when the Indo-Naga political dialogue being held at the Prime Minister’s level is at a very crucial stage.

 

“It is only because of AFSPA that the Indian armed forces continue to operate with impunity in complete disregard of all humane values & virtues. It is, therefore, demanded that this draconian law be repealed once and for all and that human rights are restored in the Naga homeland,” the federation added.

 

Further, the NSF said that it had, during its 4th Federal Assembly held at Boro Henam village, Dima Hasao, Haflong on the 2nd of December 2022, reaffirmed its earlier resolution to extend non-cooperation towards the Indian Armed Forces until AFSPA is repealed.

 

NSF also appealed to all its federating units to symbolically observe December 4 in remembrance of the victims of the Oting massacre at their respective Oking.

 

 

AKM to pay homage

 

Mokokchung, November 3 (MTNews): As resolved by the Naga Students’ Federation (NSF) during its 4th Federal Assembly held at Boro Henam village, Dima Hasao, Haflong on December 2, the Ao Kaketshir Mungdang will observe a solemn homage program on December 4 in remembrance of the victims of the Oting massacre. The program will be held at the AKM office at 8:00 AM. Further, AKM has called upon everyone to observe the day prayerfully in remembrance of the innocent victims.

 

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