THE Gadchiroli police have arrested a man from Kiyar village in Bhamragad in connection with a landmine blast that killed a policeman and injured 20 others travelling in a mine-protected vehicle (MPV) on May 3. But villagers have come out in support of the man, saying he has been wrongfully arrested and has no links with the blast. Bhamragad police arrested Komti Peka Kudyeti, 35, on Thursday.
On Friday, Kiyar residents gave a letter to the police with copies to district Collector Ranga Nayak, zilla parishad Chief Executive Officer Shantanu Goel, district Guardian Minister Ambarish Atram and Gadchiroli MP Ashok Nete, among others, vouching for Kudyeti’s innocence.
“Kudyeti has been an active member of the village gram sabha and making all efforts to bring about peace and good governance in the village through activities under the Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Areas (PESA) and Forest Rights Acts. He is a progressive farmer and involved in the farming of paddy, maize and fishing. The charges against him that he was involved in the landmine blast are false. We testify that Kudyeti has no involvement in the act. There should be a detailed inquiry into who implicated him in the act and the police should arrest the real culprits,” the villagers have said in the letter.
They further said, “The police themselves are proving to be impediment in the implementation of PESA and FRA when the villagers are trying to strengthen the constitutional Acts. The police act of arresting Kudyeti is an encroachment on the rights of the gram sabha. This could lead to further alienation of the people from the administration. Hence, the police should discharge Kudyeti of all charges and release him immediately.”
SP Abhinav Deshmukh told The Indian Express, “We had some witnesses that told us about the role of Kudyeti in the blast in terms of logistical support to Naxals. But now that we have received the representation from villagers, we would thoroughly check the facts and release him if he is innocent.”
The blast had occurred near Hemalkasa village when the MPV was carrying policemen back to Gadchiroli from an encounter sight in Bhamragad tehsil.