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“…we are warriors by blood and origin …”: Oting villagers

Nagaland News

DIMAPUR, DECEMBER 8: Citizens of Oting Village on Wednesday dismissed the “dramatic heroic reports of the fleeing cowards” submitted in the Parliament ~ in the aftermath of the massacre of 13 civilians at Oting on December 4 (and another civilian at Mon Town on December 5) ~ as “totally false and fabricated”.

On December 6, Union Home Minister Amit Shah had claimed in the Lok Sabha that the vehicle carrying the villagers was asked to stop but did not ~ that’s why the security forces had fired.
However, a statement issued by the ‘Office of the Oting Citizen’ on Wednesday termed Shah’s claim as unwarranted and uncalled for. It appealed to all leaders not to mislead and misconstrue the factual incident without accumulating the facts from the ground, and questioned the “accountability of the leaders” on the statement issued in the Parliament.
The incident
“There may be many varying reports from different medium about the massacre of 13 innocent civilians, who were all below the age of 40. We appeal all publicity and media houses not to be biased and twist the issue with misinterpretations. This communiqué issued is final and true to the core. Therefore, we appeal everyone to rely and base on this statement issued from Oting village”, it stated.
As per the villagers’ account, on the fateful evening of December 4, at around 3.30 p.m., one pick-up truck loaded with 8 coal miners/daily wage workers were returning from the mining site as the next day was Sunday, “which we, the Christians, consider as a day of rest, on which we have to attend church services and other society programmes”.
“At around 4.30 p.m., the security forces ambushed that very pick-up truck without ascertaining anything about the loaded passengers”, it stated adding that they had initially considered it as a shootout with the “insurgents”.
“Then they blocked the road for all vehicular and all other movements in that direction from all sides, and diverted all vehicles to take the less-frequented old Pioneer Road. Meanwhile, the villagers were anxiously waiting for the pick-up truck to reach the village, for they learnt that there was an incident of shootout in the location where the pick-up truck went.
“The villagers informed the District administration about the shootout that occurred. All this while, it was around 7 p.m., the villagers never assumed that their children had been massacred”, it sated.
Then at around 8 p.m., the villagers could not wait any longer and went searching for the boys in the pick-up truck.

“…they found the empty pick-up truck in which the 8 boys were in, with bullet mark piercing the windshield exactly at the driver’s position, blood stains covered with dust and mud, and the boys missing from the vehicle. The pierced windshield in the front by bullets clearly indicates that they first shot the driver of the pick-up truck to halt and ambushed the remaining point-blank.
“From this, the villagers could understand that something fishy had happened, so they chased the fleeing 3 vehicles of Indian armed forces and intercepted them by overtaking their vehicles. They first denied any knowledge of the whereabouts of the boys travelling to village on a pick-up truck. It was only then that the villagers started searching their vehicles; and on the third vehicle did they find the coward security forces sat on top of the tarpaulin that covered the whole floor of the vehicle, and under it, the 6 half-dressed boys were all lying dead. The security forces attempted trying to brand the boys as militants by planting weapons and dressed them with camouflage uniforms and boots”, read the statement.
At that time, the villagers were not aware of the other remaining 2 boys from the vehicle. “All that the villagers could think of at that time, in that situation, was that the Indian forces might have dumped the other 2 boys elsewhere. So the situation turned into heated argument between the security forces and the villagers, subsequently turning into physical scuffles from both ends. All of a sudden, the security forces started firing indiscriminately and abruptly killing and injuring few others more in the spot.
“The unarmed villagers tried escaping from the madness of the unprofessional security forces. To cut the illustration short, they were given time to leave the spot. They stole our bikes and it was while leaving and fleeing on our two-wheeler bikes that they kept firing in different directions killing and injuring many others on the way. They were permitted to leave peacefully even after our boys were killed, yet they continued firing and killing. They killed even those who were hiding under a machine (viz. Bipul & Ngampho). Therefore, it is for the whole world to know that the Indian security forces are nothing but a bunch of cowards dressed in camouflage”, the statement read.

The villagers stated that their communiqué was the highest form of condemnation of the ‘barbaric cowardly act’ of the Indian armed forces and their atrocities towards the innocent civilians and youngsters at Longkhao/Yatong, Oting Village on December 4.
“And we also dare the Indian armed forces to come out clean so as to deliver timely justice to the victims’ families. Henceforth, the people of Oting also bar all groups and parties of various factions (armed Naga groups) and the Indian armed forces indefinitely from entering Oting jurisdiction (which includes Lower Tiru). Violating this directive, the people of Oting shall not be held responsible in any manner to whatsoever happen in the near future”, they declared.
The villagers also stated that for the people of Oting, the old headhunting days “may soon make a comeback after the incident” of December 4, “though the target and enemy may vary this time”.
“For we are warriors by blood and origin, and no forces can intimidate us. You have just witnessed how we stood against your most sophisticated automatic weapons and arms. We missed by an inch in obtaining one of your heads. We weren’t prepared this time, for we thought you were the ‘Friends of the Hills People’, but we shall not repeat the same error henceforth”, the statement read.
(Page News Service)