Mon, Nagaland: Residents of Nagaland’s Oting village in Mon, where security forces killed 13 civilians, on Wednesday released a detailed account of what happened on the fateful day of December 4.

Regretting the delay in sharing the “ground reality of Longkhao/Yatong of Oting Village”, the Oting Citizens’ Office urged the media and public not to twist the interpretation of the “massacre” of the 13 innocent civilians, all of whom were below 40 years of age.

A statement, which it claimed is “final and true to the core”, said, “For the people of Oting the same old head hunting days may soon make a comeback after the incident of 4th December 2021, though the target and enemy may vary this time. We may be small and tiny in area and population, yet we are ready to compromise with situations to lose our heads and take enemy’s heads.”

Through the eyes and ears of Oting

According to the villagers, around 3:30 pm on Saturday, a pick-up truck carrying 8 coal miners was returning from the mining site to attend Sunday service the next day and also observe the day of rest.

The villagers said around 4:30 pm, the security forces ambushed the pick-up truck without first ascertaining anything about the inbound passengers. This is the villagers assumed was what they had thought was a shootout with insurgents.

“They blocked the road for all vehicular and all other movement in that direction from all sides, and diverted all vehicles to take the less-frequented old Pioneer road,” the release said.

On learning that the incident of suspected shootout was where the pick-up truck left, the villagers informed the district administration about the same.

“By this time, it was around 7:00 pm. The villagers never assumed that their children had been massacred by the unprofessional, half trained, psychopaths of Indian security forces. Then at around 8:00 pm, the villagers could not wait any longer, so they went searching for the pick-up truck and the boys. They found the empty pick-up truck in which the 8 boys were travelling. It had a bullet mark in 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,” they recounted.

Only then did the villagers realise that something was wrong. So they chased 3 vehicles of the armed forces that were fleeing the area and intercepted the vehicles by overtaking them.

“They first denied any knowledge of the whereabout of the boys travelling to the village in the pick-up truck. It was only then that the villagers started searching their vehicles that they found a security officer seated atop a 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 to brand the boys as militants by planting weapons and dressed them in camouflage uniforms and boots,” the villagers said.

As the villagers did not have any idea about the other 2 missing persons from the vehicle, it was assumed that the armed forces might have dumped their bodies.

“The situation turned into a 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 more on the spot. The unarmed villagers tried to escape,” the statement said.

The villagers said the armed forces stole their bikes and kept firing in different directions, killing and injuring many others on the way while trying to flee the spot.

“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,” they said.

The residents of Oting reiterated that they condemn in the highest form “the barbaric cowardice act of the Indian Armed Forces and the atrocities towards the innocent civilians and youngsters at Longkhao/Yatong, Oting Village”.

The Oting residents have also challenged the Indian Armed Forces to “come out clean to deliver timely justice to the victims’ families”.

Ban on Naga rebel groups, Indian Armed Forces in Oting

The statement by the villagers also stated that “henceforth, the people of Oting also bar all groups and parties of various factions, and the Indian armed forces indefinitely from entering Oting Jurisdiction (which includes Lower Tiru)”.

The villagers then warned that if “whatsoever happens to anyone violating this directive then the people of Oting shall not be held responsible in any manner”.

The villagers also questioned the accountability of the leaders on the statements issued in Parliament regarding the killings, calling it “totally false and fabricated”.

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