Both local police in Sintgu and a group of villagers say they are filing lawsuits against each other following a violent confrontation in the Mandalay Division town last week.
The local residents’ group in Nyaungwun village said they are filing charges against the officers for causing injury and destroying property last Thursday when a woman protestor was shot in the leg during the scuffle.
The police claim the woman, named as Than Kyin Nu, was shot accidently when a police officer’s gun went off as villagers tried to snatch it from him.
However, a lawyer representing the villagers, who were protesting against land seizures, said the wound sustained by Than Kyin Nu indicated the bullet did not enter her leg at close range but was fired from a distance.
“The wound on Than Kyin Nu’s leg indicated that the bullet came from about 30 to 50 yardsaway. An x-ray showed that her bone was shattered. If she was shot at close-range, the whole leg would have been blown off,” said Aung Thein.
“The police’s claim that the villagers tried to snatch guns from them is unsupported – why would a woman do something like this and risk getting shot?” he added.
Meanwhile, a police sergeant at nearby Latpanhla police station insisted the police have video and photographic evidence showing that the roughly 200 villagers were the aggressors and that several policemen were also injured in the melee. He said the police office has filed charges against the villagers for injuring and kidnapping the policemen.
“The Nyaungwun villagers have been holding rallies for some time at the field where the incident took place,” he said. “We were simply there to arrest a man who lived in a house beside the field.
“However, when the protestors saw us, they started throwing rocks at us. We tried to stop them but the mob grew bigger and bigger. We fired warning shots into the air but they tried to snatch our guns.”
Responding to a question by DVB, the police sergeant said his office was planning to sue the villagers who appear in the video footage taken by the police at the scene.
“It’s basically everyone in the village,” he said. “I was there too. We could only duck for cover as they attacked us.”
The 200 villagers reportedly overpowered the 40 police officers and detained them for a short time last Thursday, before police supervisors negotiated their release.
The villagers allege that more than 6,000 acres of land in Nyaungwun was confiscated from them by the military in 1991.