MON, DECEMBER 9: Ely has a life growing inside her, but the glow of life has gone from her eyes. Just a year into her marriage, she is ready to welcome her child sometime next year; but she has lost the most important person needed by her side at this crucial juncture ~ her husband.
Ely’s husband, Leiong Konyak, was the sole civilian killed in firing by Assam Rifles personnel in Mon town on Sunday when a mob rioted before a camp of the paramilitary force, protesting a shoot-out in nearby Oting village which killed 13 people a day earlier in a botched counter-insurgency operation.
“The Armed Forces Special Powers Act (which gives the army powers of arrest and detention) must go. That is my demand”, said Ely angrily when this Correspondent met her at her residence about 12 kms from Mon town. The demand for repealing AFSPA has been made by virtually every organisation in Nagaland from the State Government to rebel groups.
However, despite the anger, grief wells up as Ely adds, “I didn’t even know that he was going there.” “It’s been just a year this December since our marriage and I am already 5 months pregnant. I have to bring our child alone to this world now”, she said, with a blank look in her eyes. Her brother-in-law, Chingkap, said Leiong had gone to Mon town with some other villagers after the Sunday Mass to see if there was any development regarding the previous day’s killings in Oting. “We were informed by our neighbours of his death. He was shot on the back of his neck”, Chingkap told PTI. “Our brother is the only victim outside Oting and we seem to have been forgotten that”, he rued.
“We don’t want money or our names in the media, but we want justice”, Chingkap added. A high school pass-out, 34-year-old Leiong was a daily wager and farmer, like most others in his village. Chingkap further said the Assam Rifles have always maintained a friendly relation with the people and would even visit their villages.
“We are yet to understand what happened that day and why”, he added, summing up the dilemma, grief and shock writ on faces of the villagers and family members assembled in their courtyard.