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Police terror: anti-Maoist forces kill six civilians in Odisha

 

Photo by: Tarsh and Tariq Thekaekara
Photo by: Tarsh and Tariq Thekaekara
Photo by: Tarsh and Tariq Thekaekara
Photo by: Tarsh and Tariq Thekaekara

Bhubaneswar |

Last updated 10 Jul 2016 21:03 +0530

  Police Terror, anti-Maoist Operation, Odisha, Kandhamal
Civil rights are virtually seized in the left-wing extremism affected areas of Odisha and people living in these places are not safe against the bullets exchanged in an armed conflict between the police and Maoists! The irony is, this is now an official statement from a senior police officer of the Odisha government!
 

Six innocent tribal and Dalit villagers including a two-year-old boy have been shot dead in Odisha’s Kandhamal district by armed forces deployed to counter the Maoist insurgents. At least five others are reportedly injured in the incident that occurred Friday evening, around 8.30 PM, when “the villagers came in the line of fire between police and Maoist extremists,” as per the superintendent of police of Kandhamal district.

But, as per an injured survivor Lota Digal, the armed SOG personnel started firing after they entered the place and there was no exchange of fire before.

The villagers were returning by an auto-rickshaw after collecting their wage money against the work under MGNREGS programme.

Even though it’s the usual commuting time, the victims were neither informed about the anti-Maoist police operation nor were stopped by anybody while entering the area. This should have been done by the police as part of the standard operating procedure to avoid harming any innocent civilian.

The police however don’t see any fault or negligence. While the SP shifts all blames on the rain and local geography that makes the place a difficult terrain, Odisha’s south range Inspector General of Police Amitabh Thakur, rejects the idea of prior alert or verification of commuters and vehicles saying that such acts would alert the Maoists leading to failure of police operations.

It means, civil rights are virtually seized in the left-wing extremism affected areas and people living in these places are not safe against the bullets exchanged in an armed conflict between the police and Maoists! The irony is, this is now an official statement from a senior police officer of the Odisha government!

However, this has been the reality since long and ordinary people are being killed by police and the Maoists extremists time and again, human right activists and local people allege.

 

Quotation starts

How can the government and its police officials justify such breach of civil rights in a democratic state? How can the police keep on killing civilians of the state seizing the fundamental rights given by the constitution of India?

Quotation ends

 

To cite some recent cases in the state of Odisha, two tribals and a Dalit of Jugasaipatna village in Kalahandi district were shot dead by SOG personnel in November 2015; a couple from Pangalapadar village in Kotagarh block who went to a hillock for mobile signal to make phone calls to their sons working in Kerala, were shot dead by SOG personnel in July 2015.

In the past, while five people were killed in an anti-Maoist operation in the Bhaliaguda forest, in November 2012, five people including a three-year-old girl were killed in a Maoist engineered landmine blast in November 2010.

Such incidents have led to increasing fear for Maoists and hatred against the state armed forces among people living in places of conflict.

Reacting over the recent incident where he lost his father and the two-year-old son, Samsun Digal asks – “Who are these armed forces? Why are they here in my village and our forest? Are they for our safety or to kill us?”

“They must be kept away from my village and forest because instead of freeing us from Maoist fear they are rather more terrorising,” he adds.

Anger in the civil society is also growing. Social activists like Sharanya Nayak, who works in the conflict prone areas, condemn the killing saying that the incident is the latest one in the series of murders of common people especially tribals in the name of anti Maoist operation.

“All justice loving people should condemn this barbaric act,” she called for.

“The police must realise that it is being fed from the tax money paid by the people it kills,” says N A Shah Ansari, a Konark based development activist and community radio broadcaster.

Some imminent questions iterated by Ansari are – How can the government and its police officials justify such breach of civil rights in a democratic state? How can the police keep on killing civilians of the state seizing the fundamental rights given by the constitution of India?

Keeping in view the increasing hatred among people against armed forces and growing dissent in the civil society, experts and human right defenders suggest that such incidents should be taken by the government as reminders to rethink over its strategy for combating Maoist insurgency. Otherwise, overcoming the threat from left-wing extremism may remain an unrealised ambition of the State and its government.

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