Following a statement that the families of the 13 killed in security forces firing in Oting village in Nagaland’s Mon district would refuse government compensation until the security personnel involved are “brought to justice”, leaders of the Oting Village Council Monday clarified that the matter of accepting compensation lay with the victims’ families, and not the Council.
“Whether to accept ex gratia or not — that decision doesn’t depend on the village council,” Chingwang, Deputy ‘angh’ (or king), Oting Village Council, told The Indian Express. He added that the Council’s statement, published on Sunday, was intended to clarify a viral social media post that suggested that the villagers had “accepted” the compensation handed over to them on December 5.
In the statement, the Council said that on December 5 when the locals were occupied with funeral arrangements, an envelope of Rs 18.30 lakh was given by state minister P Paiwang Konyak and the district’s deputy commissioner to the Council.
At first, they assumed it to be a “token of love and gift” from the minister, but later learnt it was an installment of the ex gratia from the state government for the families of those killed and injured, it said.
It added: “The Oting Village Council and victim families will not receive it until and unless the culprit of 21st Para Commandos of the Indian Armed Force are brought to justice before the Civil code of law and repeal of Armed Force Special Power Act (AFSPA) from the entire North Eastern region.”
Chingwang added they had felt the need to issue a clarification because on December 5, they had not received the full ex-gratia amount of Rs 5 lakh, as was portrayed on social media. “Accepting ex gratia will not bring back the lives, so we have also asked that AFSPA be replaced and justice be brought,” he said, adding: “But ultimately, whether to accept the ex-gratia or not, it doesn’t depend upon the village council.”
Mon Deputy Commissioner Thavaseelan K will be visiting the village in the next two days and meet the victims family personally and discuss ex gratia, he said.
On December 4 (Saturday), the Army’s 21 Para Special Force had fired at a vehicle carrying coal miners from Tiru to Oting, killing six out of eight on board. Seven more civilians and a soldier died in the retaliatory violence that followed.
The Centre and the Nagaland government announced ex gratia of Rs 11 lakh and Rs 5 lakh, respectively, to the families of the 14 people killed. The state has also announced Rs one lakh for those seriously injured, and Rs 50,000 for those with minor injuries, said DC Thavaseelan, adding the government would take care of their medical expenditure.
“There was a misunderstanding with the compensation money, and now we are hopeful all the families will accept it,” he added, adding they were scheduled to meet the families on Wednesday.
Thavaseelan said the injured were currently stable. While two ambush survivors are in Dibrugarh in Assam, five each are in hospitals in Mon and Dimapur in Nagaland.
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