'This Is a Lie': Nagaland's BJP Leadership Decries Amit Shah's Justification of Killings in LS

Mon district president of the BJP, Nyawang Konyak, is one among many others who have openly asked why the Union home minister went against the versions of the victims.

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New Delhi: Union home minister and top Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Amit Shah’s statement to parliament on December 6 – attempting to justify the army special forces’ decision to shoot civilians at Mon district of Nagaland two days earlier – has put the party’s state unit at odds with strong public sentiments in support of the survivors’ account that they were shot at without having provoked security forces at all. 

Shah had told the Lok Sabha that the special forces opened fire at the civilians on December 4 evening because the “vehicle (they were in) was signalled to stop but it tried to flee”.

While six of them died on the spot, two others have been admitted at the Dibrugarh Medical College and Hospital in Assam. One of the survivors told the Indian Express on the evening of December 7, “We were not signalled [at] to stop. They killed us directly. We were not trying to flee…we were just in the vehicle.” 

A day after Shah’s statement in parliament, disappointment among the party leaders was evident in the BJP Nagaland state executive’s WhatsApp group. A party member who is learnt to have spoken vociferously against that statement was Mon district president of the BJP, Nyawang Konyak. 

In a voice note in Nagamese, Nyawang is said to have categorically stated, “The statement by Amit Shah that they didn’t stop at the check gates and were trying to flee was a lie.”

When contacted by The Wire, Nyawang corroborated what he had said to party members the night before. “That they were trying to flee is not true. It is a lie,” he said.

In that voice note, he also complained to the state executive members on the fact that none of the state leaders of Nagaland had visited the victims’ families at Oting village in Mon so far. 

‘No BJP leaders visited victim’s families’

“The state Congress leaders have visited the families. The state president of Congress also came to Oting to condole the deaths. But I am very sad to share here that no one from my party has come yet. There was nobody from my party to speak at the funeral service; none were seen present there. While I come from Oting, our party Mahila district unit president also comes from Oting. Do I then understand that the people (party leaders) of Nagaland and people (central leaders) of India don’t need the votes of the people of Mon? I am very sad at this and that is why sharing it here.” 

Angry villagers allegedly burned vehicles belonging to security forces in Nagaland’s Mor district after the civilian killings on December 4. Photo: PTI.

Nyawang later told this correspondent, “When I had gone to each house in Oting to condole the deaths, there was no one from the state party leadership with me. Nobody has come till today (December 8). It has not gone unnoticed. On top of it, there is that statement from Amit Shah. People of my area are disappointed.” 

Nyawang, who comes from Oting, was among the eyewitnesses of the second round of firing by the special forces at the villagers on December 4 evening. He had told Scroll.in on December 5 that his car, inspite of the BJP flag on its bonnet, was shot at by the Special Forces.

While his driver received bullet injuries, his neighbour who was in his car, died due to incessant firing by the security forces.

In total, seven villagers had died in the second round of firing, taking the toll of civilian death to to 13 that day. 

Nyawang, on December 6, had also told a local media organisation, Hornbill TV, that villagers saw security forces removing the clothes of the victims and were trying to put on ‘khaki’ clothes on them – hinting at a possible cover-up of the botched anti-insurgency operation in the area. 

On December 5, Nagaland BJP unit chief Temjen Imma Along, in a statement, called the incident “tantamount to war crimes during peace time and amounts to summary execution as well as genocide”. It was tweeted by the party’s state Twitter handle but was later deleted. 

On December 8, a Dimapur-based state BJP leader, on being asked about the reaction to Shah’s statement within the party state unit said, “At a time when public sentiment is strong and is in support of the unarmed civilians who were brutally killed, our central leader was seen as if trying to justify that action. People have seen it on TV. Nyawang is right. Because of such a statement, we are now at odd with public sentiments; we can’t even go to the public at this time while opposition is reaching out to them. It is not good for the party.” The leader sought anonymity.