Kohima, India, December 11 (KMS): Seven days ago, in Nagaland’s Mon district, a botched Army op led to the death of six civilians. Seven more died in retaliatory clashes between security personnel and locals, in which one soldier was also killed.
In massive protests in Mon, today, furious residents have demanded an apology from Indian Home Minister, Amit Shah for his false and fabricated statement on the incident in Parliament this week.
Protesters burned an effigy of the Home Minister to underline the extent of their anger – both against Amit Shah and his allegedly incorrect statement, and against the Indian government over the continued imposition of AFSPA, or the Special Forces Act, that, they fear, will be invoked to shield the guilty.
The protesters – who included residents from the village of Oting, the home of 12 of the 14 killed – were led by an Apex Body of tribes called the Konyak Union, and have demanded an immediate apology from Amit Shah and the withdrawal of his statement from the Parliament’s records.
“We are asking for justice… we don’t need sympathy. Twisting of truth is unfortunate… Home Minister Amit Shah’s statement in Parliament (is) confusing the world with wrong information. He should immediately withdraw… we demand his apology,” Honang Konyak, the union’s Vice President, said.
“We will not rest until justice is delivered to those 14 Konyak youth who were killed,” he added.
In a perfunctory statement to both Houses of Parliament on Monday, Amit Shah said the Army unit had only opened fire because the truck carrying the villagers accelerated away when ordered to stop. The Army unit, suspecting insurgents were in the vehicle, opened fire, he said.
The Army itself, earlier, had said that a member of the unit thought he saw a hunting rifle in the truck, and has ordered a Court of Inquiry to be led by an officer of Major General rank.
Either way, in the initial burst of murderous fire, six villagers were killed. No arms or ammunition were recovered, and all those in the vehicle were found to be innocent coal miners returning from work.
Amit Shah’s statement in Parliament has also been criticised by Meghalaya’s Nationalist People’s Party, which is an ally of the BJP. A NPP spokesperson told media that the roads in the area were so bad the truck could not have sped away as Mr Shah had claimed.