Soumittra S Bose
NAGPUR: The two encounters in which 19 alleged Naxals were killed by security forces in south Chhattisgarh have been called into question by activists who have slammed the forces for what they say is blatant killing of innocent villagers.
As against the official figures of 19 deaths, activists claimed that 26 people were killed at three places within a span of few hours. Activists also say several villagers were thrashed and arrested.
Former education minister of Haryana and firebrand activist Swami Agnivesh came down heavily on the security forces and demanded a judicial inquiry into the encounters. "The villagers had merely gathered for a village meeting when they were fired on," Agnivesh said.
"Around 300 armed troops surrounded and fired upon 200-odd tribals. Some Naxals may have been present there but they escaped seeing the security forces approaching. The villagers who stayed back got killed," he said. "Reports and photographs show clearly that the children and young girls were also not spared in the firing," said the activist.
Leftist ideologue and poet Varavara Rao stated that the actions in which the villagers were gunned down were part of 'Operation Green Hunt' which were intensified through 'Operation Vijaya' and 'Operation Hakka'. He said that civilian armed movement Salwa Judum was started in 2004, Operation Green Hunt in 2009 and Army was stationed in Bastar in 2011 by the state to repress the voice of tribals here. "Army may not be using arms but are providing their infrastructure to fight the tribals in the Bastar area,' said Rao.
According to a reliable source in Bastar, the villagers of Kottagudam, Karakagudam and Rajupenta were conducting a 'bhoomipuja' before the tilling phase at the onset of monsoon. "The villagers were also supposed to distribute the land among them for tilling following an adopted pattern in these regions which has been initiated in the last couple of years. Forests have been cleared for tilling purpose which the villagers were now ready to take up," said the source. He added that 23 people died at Basaguda encounter and many others were injured. "The security forces left with 17 bodies while the rest died in forests," he said.
Another source said that two villagers - Markham Mudyalu and Latchalu - were grazing their cattle when they were killed by the security forces near Jagargunda village. Nine people were dragged to the police station. The villagers were lathi-charged when they gheraoed the police station for release of the detained people.
Six people were arrested from Simeru village, said a district source from Sukma. He added that around 40 people were tortured and their properties destroyed at Singuru village. The source also stated that Sodhi Dorla was a chief of Gram Raksha Dal and not sectional commander of Naxals as claimed by the security agencies.
[Courtesy: TOI, July 1, 2012]