Trouble is brewing for the Bharatiya Janata Party in Nagaland, with the party's prospects within the Konyak community turning bleak over the shooting of civilians in Oting village in Mon district on December 5. The party’s local unit is in disarray and local workers allege indifference on part of senior leaders of the party.
Local party workers from Mon, including Mon district BJP president, said that on one hand they are facing the wrath of the people, and on the other, indifference by the BJP's senior party members.
On December 4, security forces fired at civilians – coal mine workers returning home in a pick-up van – suspecting them to be insurgents. The shootings took place at Oting under Tizit sub-division of Mon district. Following that, clashes broke out between the armed forces and local civilians, and in all 15 people lost their lives.
The local BJP workers are facing the brunt of the anger of the local population, who blame the ruling BJP for trying to whitewash the incident. Home minister Amit Shah’s address at the Parliament that the workers were shot at after they tried to flee had led to a lot of anger.
Workers alleged that no senior BJP leader, either from the state of the Centre, has visited the place after the shooting. And complaints to senior BJP leaders have fallen on deaf ears.
A senior state unit leader from the Konyak community, requesting anonymity, said that they are “demoralised”. Unhappiness against the party is brewing in almost five districts, the leader said. These include Mon and its neighbouring districts of Tuensang and Longleng, among others.
“There was no show in this hour of crisis. The state leadership did not come, and during the funerals representatives of the Congress, Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party, National People’s Party, and Rising People’s Party were there. But sadly none from our party,” said the leader.
The leader said that the absence of state party president Temjen Imma Along is a flashpoint, and that Along’s request for a meeting with the Central leadership in Delhi in the aftermath of the shooting is yet to materialise. Along was unavailable for comment.
“We need someone who understands the tribal dynamics,” said the leader.
Mon district BJP president Nyawang Konyak told DH that no calls, no visits and no condolence messages has reached the district from the party leadership in the state as well as the Centre. He said that he has written to Nalin Kohli, the party’s prabhari (in-charge) for the state.
“I told him that after the killing of 15 people on a mistake, the state president did not visit here to console the people, but left for Delhi to give his own representation. Naga people are angry, the situation might get out of hand and there will be mass desertion. The image of the party is totally spoiled,” Konyak told DH. Kohli could not be reached for comment.
Incidentally, P Paiwang Konyak, BJP’s lone legislator in 2013 and minister in the current government, won from Tizit assembly seat, under which Oting village falls. He was given the ticket on the insistence of Oting residents.
The Konyaks are electorally the community with the highest voters, and are the largest tribe in the state, followed by Ao, Tangkhul, Sema, and Angami. Of the 15 who lost their lives, 14 are from the Konyak tribe.
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