Mon (Nagaland): The medicines have dulled the pain of the bullet wounds, but the pain of losing near and dear ones’ remains. People speak in whispers and nurses scurry around on tiptoes at Nagaland’s Mon Civil Hospital ward where seven of those injured in firing by security forces at Oting and Mon over Saturday and Sunday, have been kept.

“First our brothers were shot and killed, then we were shot. And now, we are left forgotten by the outside world,” lamented T Chongmei Konyak, one of those injured at Oting where 13 villagers were killed in a botched ambush laid by para commandos against what the army believed was a rebel group but was in fact a team of coal miners.

Medical Superintendent of the Hospital Dr Hoito Sema told PTI that the condition of all those admitted was stable. “We faced an unprecedented situation after the incidents. But our staff responded fast and efficiently,” he said.

A former Army Supply Corps soldier, Chongmei said, “We were the first people to reach the Oting incident site. But that fateful day’s narrative is being constructed without anyone speaking to us.”

Refuting the Army’s contention that the incident was a result of mistaken identity, he said, “The ambush site was barely few metres away from the coal mining site and the villages are nearby. How could they lay an ambush so close to civilian residences?” Chongmei, who was in the team from Lower Tiru reached the spot along with another team from Oting village on the other side when the coal miners did not reach home on time on Saturday evening, said, “We requested the army personnel to take out their ammunition and talk with us.”

“They kept their barrels lowered but refused to pay heed to any of our requests,” he said.

He admitted that a scuffle started as the villagers became agitated when the army failed to give any satisfactory explanation of the death of the first six miners.

“I myself took out one or two magazines in the scuffle. But we never imagined that they would start firing on us indiscriminately,” Chongmei said.

A bullet hit his right sole before he managed to take cover.

“I knew from my training how to save myself. But all were not as lucky,” he said as his voice trailed off.

A local BJP leader whose driver was shot in the incident told PTI at the hospital, “It was mayhem. We just hope that our injured recover soon.” Family members and friends have been keeping company with the injured in the hospital as far as allowed.

“The outside world may have left us to our fate, but our people have stood by us steadfastly,” said Chempai from Oting village also undergoing treatment at the hospital as he managed a feeble smile.

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