The Central Reserve Police Force has initiated an internal inquiry into last weeks encounter in Bijapur district of Chhattisgarh where eight villagers and a CoBRA commando were killed.
It has now emerged that for seven hours the security forces did not realise that besides their commando and a villager,seven others had been killed in the encounter. As a result,their bodies could be brought back to Gangalur for an autopsy only the next day.
The Home Ministry has announced it will provide compensation to all the deceased and will not wait for the completion of judicial inquiry ordered by the state government. The MHA will pay Rs 3 lakh out of Rs 5 lakh announced by the state government. The Centre has proposed that an additional Rs 3 lakh will be borne by it out of the security-related expenditure over an above Rs 5 lakh announced by the state government.
A senior officer said they had fanned out in five groups,each comprising 150 men from the CRPF and Chhattisgarh Police and were heading towards Pidiya when one of the parties allegedly came under fire at Ehadsameta village,around 12 km from Gangalur,the starting point. The other parties had started from Cherpal,Sarkeguda,Jagargunda and Baseguda.
Around 11 pm on May 17 when the police party reached Ehadsameta,they reportedly came under fire. Our teams retaliated and one person was killed at the spot. One of our CoBRA commandos also took a bullet in his forehead and we decided to go back to Gangalur. We returned with the body of the man who died in the firing and also our commando. The next morning we were informed that seven more bodies were lying there, said a senior officer.
CRPF officials detained three men from the village and brought them to Gangalur,but they were let off the next day when the police could not substantiate their Maoist link.
This wasnt the first time that our team went on an area domination drive to Pidiya,one of the headquarters of the Maoists…. We do not want to leave this area untouched and will be going there continuously to eradicate the presence of Maoist groups, said the officer.
Officials said their teams were deployed in the area and the operation was still on.
Incidentally,the internal inquiry into last years encounter in Bijapur where 19 people had died is still on with the force failing to come to any conclusion.