‘Weren’t Asked To Stop’: Army Ambush Survivor in Nagaland Counters HM Amit Shah
23-year-old Sheiwang said, "It sounded like bombs were exploding. It was not even dark, they still shot us."
Countering Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s claim that the vehicle carrying eight coal miners in Nagaland’s Oting village, six of whom were gunned down by the armed forces, had been asked to stop but tried to flee, 23-year-old Sheiwang, one of the two survivors, has revealed that they were directly shot at without any signal to stop.
Six of the eight miners were gunned down on Saturday, 4 December, with their deaths later regretted as a case of 'mistaken identity' by the army.
On Monday, 6 December, Amit Shah had claimed,
“The army had received information on the movement of extremists in Oting, Mon. On that basis, 21 commandos laid an ambush in the suspected district. A vehicle reached there, it was signalled to stop but it tried to flee. On suspicion of the vehicle carrying extremists, it was fired upon. Due to this, six of the eight persons in the vehicle died."
However, Sheiwang, currently admitted in the Assam Medical College and Hospital (AMCH) in Dibrugarh, with bullet injuries on his elbow and chest, said, “Direct marise… they shot right at us. We were not signalled to stop. They killed us directly. We were not trying to flee… we were just in the vehicle,” The Indian Express quoted him as saying.
The civilian killings triggered violence in the region on Saturday night, which continued till Sunday.
Moreover, as per an official release issued by the Nagaland Police, security personnel involved in the ambush incident on Saturday evening had attempted to hide the bodies of the deceased coal miners by wrapping and loading them in another pickup truck to take their bodies to the base camp.
Further, as per the statement, the enraged villagers subsequently burnt down three vehicles belonging to the security forces, while one more civilian died during the violence that ensued.
A day later, 600-700 locals had barged into the camps of the Assam Rifles in retaliation for the killings, as per the police. The mob had sticks, stones, machetes, and inflammable fluids.
The army had fired upon the villagers in order to disperse the crowd, killing seven more civilians. One jawan also died in the unrest.
The Nagaland Police on Sunday took suo motu cognisance of the civilian killings, and registered a First Information Report (FIR) against 21 paramilitary personnel.
In the FIR, accessed by The Quint, the Nagaland Police said that the forces "blankly opened fire (sic)" and that the intention was to "murder and injure civilians."
‘It Was Not Even Dark’
Recounting the incident, Sheiwang added, “I do not remember how long it lasted, but it was for a while. It sounded like bombs were exploding. It was not even dark, they still shot us,” The Indian Express reported.
Meanwhile, a doctor at the AMCH was reported as saying that the two were “left” at hospital early Sunday morning and that “no one knew who they were, where they came from.”
The funeral services for those killed in the firing incident were held at the helipad ground in Nagaland’s Mon district on Monday, in the presence of Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, Deputy Chief Minister Yanthungo Patton, and Naga People’s Front (NPF) leader Taditui Rangkau Zeliang.
Civilians Killed by the Army Include:
Most of those killed worked as coal miners.
Ngamlem's husband Langtun, who was married over a year ago, and has a two-month-old child.
Shomwang, son of cancer-stricken Chemwang, had bought a pick-up truck and used to ferry villagers from a coal mine in Tiru area. On Saturday, when the special forces ambushed his truck, he died on the spot with five others, NDTV reported.
Hokup, who had married his wife Monlong just 12 days ago on 25 November.
One of Ngunpet's two sons is dead, while another is battling for his life in the ICU with bullet injuries.
(With inputs from The Indian Express and NDTV.)
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