”Bullets have been coming from all instructions, not solely from the jawans who have been fleeing.”
Chongmei Konyak had seen all of it earlier than – his coaching as an Indian Military jawan instinctively kicked in.
Caught in the course of the cross-fire, Mr Konyak hit the deck, crawling to security. “I rolled right down to a nallah to avoid wasting myself.”
A couple of metres away, Military troopers, all members of the elite 21 Para Particular Forces, had opened hearth after being surrounded by livid villagers who have been reacting to the dying of six males from Oting, the village that they lived in. Many of the males labored in a close-by coal mine.
Simply hours earlier, this identical unit of jawans fired on a pick-up truck, in an ambush meant to focus on militants. Besides, the boys they shot turned out to be harmless villagers, who labored in mines close by.
Because the scenario grew extra tense, dozens of villagers attacked the Military jawans with machetes. One soldier was killed. The others retaliated in self-defence. On this, they might have been supported by different commandos who have been in hid positions within the neighborhood of the incident.
“I’m skilled within the Military, so even in that chaos, I might make out the place the bullets have been coming from,” says Mr Konyak, who left the Military in 2012. He had been commissioned into the Military Service Corps and was in uniform for fifteen years.
Sources within the Military have advised The Press Reporter that they’re wanting into all angles of their investigation, together with the assertion that there was gunfire from areas past the instant web site of the faceoff. ”Any such allegations may also be introduced below the ambit of the court docket of inquiry.”
The Press Reporter has additionally reached out to the Nagaland authorities with queries. This report might be up to date if there’s a response.
Mr Konyak, who’s now in hospital, is recovering from a gunshot wound that he acquired within the melee. He has a gaping gap close to his left heel after being struck by a spherical from an Israeli-built Tavor automated rifle, the usual situation weapon utilized by the Military’s Particular Forces.
“I realised that there was gunfire additionally coming from the jungles. Para Particular Forces jawans who had night-vision gadgets have been firing. We couldn’t see them however they clearly noticed what was occurring.”
Mr Konyak’s testimony is an important a part of the proof being collected by the Particular Investigation Workforce wanting into the tragedy in Nagaland. The SIT, headed by Inspector Normal of Police Limasunup Jamir, is probing costs of homicide and try to homicide, which was filed in a First Info Report towards the Military troopers on December 6.
In an announcement to The Press Reporter, the Nagaland Police says they’ll have the ability to conclude the place the gunfire got here from primarily based on ”statements of the attention witnesses and the reveals within the case” that are being utilized by the SIT ”to reconstruct the scene of the crime with an knowledgeable forensic staff”.
Whereas the SIT has been given permission to document statements from the jawans concerned within the botched ambush, the troopers can’t be prosecuted with out clearance from the House Ministry. Troopers preventing militancy in components of the Northeast are protected by the Armed Forces Particular Powers Act (AFSPA) which offers immunity from arrest and prosecution. In line with the Nagaland Police, permission to document statements of the Military jawans got here after ”a number of summons” have been despatched ”to look at Military and Assam Rifes personnel between 18.12.2021 and 28.12.2021.”
The SIT’s investigation runs parallel to an inquiry headed by an Military Main Normal. Yesterday, the Indian Military inquiry staff visited the positioning within the Oting village, bringing with them at the least one of many jawans concerned within the incident. In a press launch, the Military says, “The Court docket of Inquiry is progressing expeditiously and all efforts are being made to conclude it on the earliest.”
For Mr Konyak, there’s a lingering sense of disbelief at what he noticed. ”I believed it was a firefight between the Military and militants. I by no means thought, even for a second, that they have been killing harmless folks. I can’t think about, even in a nightmare that the Indian Military might do this.”