Kohima: Just few days ago, the state of Nagaland was brimming with festivity and merry making, as the famed Hornbill festival was underway. Three days after civilians were killed in a horrifically botched operation by the Army’s elite 21 Para Special Forces, the usually hospitable and music loving Naga people, the skies rendered the cries of mourning as gut-wrenching visuals have emerged of grief-stricken families burying their loved ones in a mass grave.
12 of the 14 - killed in the Army op that went wrong on Saturday and in retaliatory violence on Saturday and Sunday - were buried last night in an emotional ceremony.
All 12 were from Oting village in Nagaland's Mon district, and they were buried in a mass grave.
Distressing visuals showed one woman weeping uncontrollably over a coffin.
One of the other videos zooms out to show multiple coffins, each surrounded by men and woman crying and holding garlands while family members hold and comfort them.
Yet another shows a young woman, in black, crying desperately as she clings to two coffins.
One particularly horrible visual shows a line of nondescript coffins, some of which are covered in a white cloth with a red cross and the others with plain sheet.
Among the tragic stories to have emerged are that of a man who leaves behind his wife and a two-month-old child. A father stricken with cancer had two sons - now one is dead and the other is battling for his life in hospital. The mother of one of the villagers killed has suffered severe mental trauma.
Another of the visuals shows an armed security personnel standing by one of the coffins.
Rolling with pain and anger, the Nagaland government has demanded the repeal of Armed Forces Act (AFSPA) from the state which has been known for a dark past in the Northeast region for the many anti-humanitarian crimes committed by the Armed Forces.
Nagaland Police's FIR named the Army's elite special unit and alleged "murder", saying that the "intention" of the security forces was to "murder and injure civilians".
The Army expressed deep regret for the "unfortunate loss of lives" and has confirmed that the matter is being investigated internally. Yesterday Army sources also defended the initial firing by saying the unit thought they saw a hunting rifle in the truck. But no arms or ammunition were recovered from the truck.