Six Dalit/Adivasis Including A Child Killed In Fake Encounter In Kandhamal

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In continuing war on its own people security forces in Kandhamal district of Odisha state in India killed six poor Adivasi and Dalit labourers. Four others have been seriously injured by CRPF firing in Malapanga forest under Tumudibandha police limits. They were returning from Balliguda ,( the block and Sub-Divisional head quarter of their village Gungudmaha under Parampanka G.P) with others after receiving their wages under MGNREGA through Bank. The deceased people are indentified as Kukal Digal(Male-50), Luta Digal(Male-25), Timari Mallick, Bringuli Mallick and Midiali Mallick (all women aged around 40 years) and 2 year old child of Sunita Digal and Luka Digal. Even severely injured Luta Digal was not taken to nearest hospital for immediate treatment for which he died without treatment.

Around 12 people were returning to their village around 9.30pm on Friday in a van after collecting their wages for work under the MGNREGA.The incident occurred, when the villagers were about two kilometres away from their village. The police claim that the villagers were caught in an exchange of fire between Maoists and security forces. Human Rights activists say it’s impossible for a vehicle to enter an area where an encounter is going on and all 12 people travelling in the vehicle to get bullet injuries.

Chief minister Naveen Patnaik ordered a judicial probe into the incident and announced compensation of Rs 5 lakh for the family members of the dead. The injured persons are being treated at the district headquarters hospital. The administration has been directed to provide free treatment to the injured. Opposition political parties and rights activists condemned the killings on the pretext of suppressing Maoist activities in Kandhamal district and held chief minister Naveen Patnaik accountable for the deaths.

Stating that innocent people were butchered by police, leader of opposition Narasingha Mishra said being in-charge of the home department, Naveen is answerable for the unacceptable state-sponsored massacre of its own people. “He must answer how this can happen and the action taken against the murderers? The government must also increase the compensation to at least Rs 20 lakh per such death,” said Narasingha.

Terming the judicial probe ordered by the state government, a necessity in view of the Supreme Court guidelines in the matter, he said, judicial probes in Odisha have become jokes because most of these never meet their logical end. Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee president Prasad Harichandan warned the state government will face disastrous consequences for the killings. Echoing similar views, BJP spokesperson Sajjan Sharma said the government has become aimless in its anti-Maoist operations. Rights campaigner Biswapriya Kanungo said since such incidents were frequently happening, the government should review its policy and strategy towards tackling Maoists.

Demanding a special investigation team, which should directly report to court about its findings, Narendra Mohanty, convener of voluntary organization Campaigning Against Fabricated Cases (CAFC), Odisha, families of the deceased should get Rs 50 lakh each. Human rights activist Manoj Jena described the incident as a “fake encounter” between the Maoists and the security forces, while also demanding the intervention of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). He sought more compensation for the victims and criminal proceedings against the “erring security men”.

In a similar incident in July 26, 2015 a couple identified as Duba Nayak and his wife Budi Nayak were killed in firing by personnel of the Special Operations Group and the Central Reserve Police Force, deployed for anti-Maoist operation in Kotagarah block of Kandhamal district. Since the couple were unable to get network on their mobile phones, they had trekked the Ladima Hills to talk to their son, who was in Kerala. While talking to their son over phone, they were hit by bullets. Their son, Rahul Nayak, in his petition submitted before the State Human Rights Commission, narrated that he had heard over phone their parents screaming in pain. Next day, the villagers discovered their bullet-ridden bodies.

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