12 Days After Wedding, She Lost Husband To Botched Nagaland Op

Some 300 km from Nagaland capital Kohima, hundreds of villagers last night said their farewells to 12 young men from the village who were killed by army soldiers in what Union Home Minister Amit Shah called a case of "mistaken identity".

In disturbing visuals from last evening, a woman in black is seen clinging to a coffin and sobbing.

Kohima:

In Nagaland's Oting village, grief has many faces today. A woman widowed 12 days after her wedding. A father battling cancer. A mother who thought her sons would look after her in her old age.

Everything lost within a few moments on Saturday, when 12 villagers were killed in an army ambush gone horribly wrong.

Some 300 km from Nagaland capital Kohima, hundreds of villagers last night said their farewells to 12 young men from the village who were killed by army soldiers in what Union Home Minister Amit Shah called a case of "mistaken identity".

Most of the men were workers at a coal mine. Their funeral held at Mon town was attended by thousands, including Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio.

The remains were later taken to their native village, Oting, and buried.

In disturbing visuals from last evening, a woman in black is seen clinging to a coffin and sobbing.

Monlong was married just two weeks back, on November 25. The entire village celebrated. Now they are mourning at her husband Hokup's funeral.

"My husband loved me, I reciprocated by loving you all from Oting. I was married here on 25th November. After the wedding we hardly got any time. I work for the church and he went back to his work....now let me have a final word with him," Monlong wept, a wrenching picture of grief.

She turned to her husband's coffin and held tight.

The bamboo structures put up for her wedding still stand, not far from what has now become a mass funeral site.

Among those killed was Ngamlem's husband Langtun. Married a little over a year ago, Ngamlem is left with her two-month-old child.

"Brother I can't talk..." she wailed, surrounded by mourners.

A few houses away, Chemwang, cancer patient cannot believe that the son who took care of him is now gone.

Shomwang had bought a pick-up truck and used to drive it for a living. He used to ferry villagers from a coal mine in Tiru area. On Saturday, when the special forces ambushed his truck - allegedly believing it was hiding insurgents -- he died on the spot with five others.

"They killed my innocent son...I am broken inside . I don't know what I will do. I have been unwell, he used to take care of me... he is gone. I will go mad, what will I do... why did they do this," Chemwang moans.

Another parent says she doesn't think she can survive the pain. "My heart has been broken into pieces...I don't know what to say in this sorrow... This sorrow will remain for the rest my life, constantly," said Nyeman, the mother of Yinchong, one of those killed.

Ngunpet is in shock. Her twin sons worked at the mine. Now one is dead and the other is battling for his life in the ICU with bullet injuries.

"We were thinking now we can rely on our children to look after us. But instead...We are in utter shock and pain," said Ngunpet , a mother of two sons.

Eight villagers were first killed in the ambush set up by the Army's 21 Para SF following a tip-off on insurgents. The information was false, the Army and the centre have since said.

Five more were killed when other villagers heard the gunshots and rushed to the spot. They allegedly found the Army team, led by a Major, trying to cover-up the incident and moving bodies.

But Army sources told NDTV the soldiers were trying to take the bodies to the police station. Sources also said angry villagers, some armed with machetes, had attacked the soldiers and forced them to fire in self-defence. One soldier died in the violence; his throat was slashed.

Nagaland Police's FIR names the Army's elite special unit and alleges "murder", saying that the "intention" of the security forces was to "murder and injure civilians".

Yesterday, Amit Shah expressed regret over the incident and said the incident was being probed. However, in Nagaland, anger is spiralling.

The state government has called for the scrapping of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), which gives the forces sweeping powers in "disturbed areas" to arrest or open fire just on suspicion.

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