This Article is From Dec 11, 2021

Amit Shah Lied, Say Protesters In Massive Rally Over Nagaland Deaths

Nagaland Civilian Killings: 14 civilians and a soldier were killed in Nagaland's Mon district over the weekend, after a botched counter-insurgency op triggered a clash with furious villagers

Huge protests in Nagland's Mon district over the killing of 14 civilians


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 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 Mr Shah and his allegedly incorrect statement, and against the central 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.


An effigy of Amit Shah was burnt by the protesters

These demands, they have said, must be added to the five already placed in front of the centre.

The earlier demands include an independent committee to investigate the failed Army ambush and that all those involved in the incident be charged and punished in accordance with the law of the land.

The big demand, though, is the repeal of AFSPA, or Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act - a demand also made by Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio and his Meghalaya counterpart, Conrad Sangma.


A protest rally in Nagland's Mon district today demanding repeal of AFSPA and justice for the 14 killed

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.

The killings were condemned by Nagaland and national opposition parties and, most crucially, by the BJP's state unit; Nagaland BJP chief Temjen Imma Along, who is also a minister, called it "genocide".

Earlier this week Oting villagers offered their own version of events, accusing the soldiers involved of planting weapons in the hands of those they killed to justify the shooting.

Their strongly-worded statement calls the soldiers "unprofessional, half-trained, psychopaths".

The Army, responding to the killings, had expressed regret but categorically denied any attempt at a cover-up, saying the bodies were being taken to the police station for reporting.

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 news agency PTI that the roads in the area were so bad the truck could not have sped away as Mr Shah had claimed.

The Congress has also questioned Mr Shah's statement.