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Nagaland Villagers March To Site Of Botched Op, Vow To Fight For Justice

Villagers in Oting, home to 12 of the 13 civilians who were killed in a botched counter-insurgency operation in Nagaland on December 4, held a peaceful march to the area where the incident took place over a fortnight ago.
The peaceful march, which included family members of the killed civilians, witnessed a huge turnout as many people from nearby villages also participated in the march towards the incident site.
Soon after reaching the incident site, the Oting villagers offered prayers right at the place where they were shot.
“For all these days we have been in grief, so we could not come here or didn’t feel like coming but now we have come. Church leaders had also visited this site. We prayed together for justice to those killed,” a villager told NDTV.
Philip Konyak, Oting village council member, said that the villagers will continue to fight for justice of the civilians killed in the botched army operation.
“NBCC church leader from Koha had come, so we came here to pay our respects. The visit has intensified our feeling. We will never forget the betrayal of Indian Army and state government. The citizens of Oting village will keep fighting for justice to be given to us,” he said.
The protests organised by the Oting Village council were supported by Konyak Union, the apex body of the Konyak Naga Tribe from the Mon district of Nagaland where the incident took place.
“Konyak civil societies appeals all Naga political groups to avoid movement with arms within its jurisdiction. Any group who disrupt the situation shall be considered as the enemy of the Konyaks. Moreover, the Konyaks shall not be held responsible for any action. Konyak union convene all konyak submit on 18th Jan 2022 to decide its further course of action if its demand is not fulfilled” the Konyak Union said in a statement.
The botched operation has once again brought into question the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), a law that gives sweeping powers to the army in troubled regions. There has been widespread demand to revoke special powers granted to the armed forces in North East. Chief Ministers of Nagaland and Meghalaya have publicly demanded the same. The Nagaland government will write to the Centre calling for the repeal of AFSPA.
Nagaland has also called off the Hornbill Festival, an annual event that draws thousands of domestic and foreign tourists.
The Nagaland Assembly has unanimously resolved to demand a repeal of the controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 from the northeast, especially from Nagaland. The state Assembly passed a five-point resolution to “strengthen the ongoing efforts to find a peaceful political settlement to the Naga political issue”. This comes a little over two weeks after a botched Army operation and retaliatory violence in the state’s Mon district killed 14 civilians.
Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio led the Assembly in passing the resolution and appealing for an early settlement of the Naga Peace talks at the special session of the Assembly. “Nagaland and the Naga people have always opposed AFSPA. It should be repealed,” Mr Rio had earlier said in a searing attack on the “draconian law” just days after the violence.

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, however, has backed the use of the controversial Act in the state.
“Withdraw AFSPA can’t be a call of the state government. It depends on the overall situation of law and order in the state,” he said.
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