Hokup Konyak on his wedding day on November 25 NEW DELHI: Thirteen is more than dead statistics for Oting in Nagaland’s Mon district — for a village that lost as many of its sons to a botched Army ambush and subsequent violence on Saturday, the number will remain wrapped in a range of emotions for years to come.It will be remembered by a baby when she grows up as her father was among the dead that day.Or by the wife of a man who got married just nine days before the tragedy.
Langtun Konyak (36), a farmer and part-time coal miner, married Ngamlem in September last year and they had a daughter two months ago.“He was a good son and sole breadwinner for the family,” his father Monyam said over a video call.That was all the shattered father could convey as his daughter-inlaw Ngamlem sat on a chair, cradling her baby and staring into the blankness.
‘Incident just ahead of Christmas makes it even more tragic’
Mon district, the land of the Konyak tribe, has been shocked by the brutal killings of civilians — all between 25 and 37 years — returning after a hard day’s work at one of the coal mines in Lower Tiru, about 15km from Oting.The mines are between Oting in Tizit zone and Tiru in Naginimora circle.
A funeral service for the dead was held on Monday where Nagaland CM Neiphiu Rio paid his last respects to the 13 villagers.One more villager was killed on Sunday when security forces fired to disperse protesters, taking the overall toll to 14.
Read Also Nagaland pushes for AFSPA repeal, calls off Hornbill fest SIMAPUR/ GUWAHATI: The Nagaland cabinet on Monday decided to formally write to the Centre to repeal the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act of 1958, blaming it for the killing of 14 Konyak civilians in a botched counter-insurgency operation by the Army and clashes in its aftermath, in Mon district
Mining starts in October, after the rains, and continues through the winter till April.
Villagers in the area work in the mines as a side gig to supplement their income.“Money is needed for Christmas.And the incident coming just ahead of Christmas makes it even more tragic,” said Hosea Konyak of Oting, who is an adviser to the tribe’s apex body Konyak Union.A village of 190 homes, most people in Oting work part-time in the mines during this season, he said.
Hosea knew Hokup Konyak, a neighbour, since childhood.
“He couldn’t study beyond Class 10 but he was a good man.He was the president of the church association for 10 years,” he said.Hokup (37) got married on November 25.
Hokup was the main breadwinner for his family.His mother Neingam said he lost his father in 2004 when he was 20 and has been taking care of the family since.Hokup had been a miner for the past three seasons.
On Tuesday, the village held a meeting to express solidarity with the bereaved families.The villagers were worried about a dozen people wounded in the firing and admitted to hospitals in Dibrugarh, Dimapur and Mon.Some are said to be grievously wounded.
“We want the draconian AFSPA to be withdrawn from Konyak land and the entire Nagaland.
The central government should apologise to the people and the community and arrest the officer under whose command such a massacre took place.We want justice, not just blood money being given by the government,” said Hosea.
The cry for AFSPA’s repeal has gotten louder.Nagaland CM Rio and Meghalaya CM Conrad Sangma weighed in too on Monday, demanding withdrawal of the law.
The Konyak Union decided at a meeting on Tuesday to observe a seven-day mourning period across Mon district, said Shingwang Konyak , member of the advisory board and a former SDM.“A total lockdown was observed in Mon today.Black flags will be put up at all institutions, offices and shops, and people will be wearing black armbands and ribbons as a mark of protest and mourning,” he said.
The union has come up with a five-point charter of demands for the country’s President.
The charter seeks an independent probe into the incident and trial in a civil court of the personnel involved in the shooting.It demanded immediate removal of 37 Assam Rifles from Mon district and revocation of AFSPA from the entire northeast.
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