A Chhattisgarh cabinet minister has written to Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, alleging that the death of a woman and injury to another, who according to police were caught in “crossfire” during an encounter between Maoists and security forces in Sukma district, was actually the result of a “fake encounter”.
Minister for Excise and Industry and five-time MLA from Konta in Sukma, Kawasi Lakhma, has written in his letter that the victims were “innocent adivasi women” and has demanded strict action in the matter. He has also asked the state government to announce compensation of Rs 10 lakh for the family of the woman who was killed, and Rs 5 lakh for the family of the injured woman.
Lakhma, incidentally, is the only survivor of the Maoist attack in Jhiram on May 25, 2013, which left 29 people dead and wiped out the entire top brass of the Congress in Chhattisgarh.
In a letter to the Chief Minister dated February 8, Lakhma wrote that it has been said that there was an encounter between a team of CRPF and district police, and Maoists on February 2, where one woman was killed and another injured in firing by the CRPF. “But the real situation is that the CRPF and district police teams had left from the Puswada camp towards Rangaiguda for an operation. Near Godelguda, two women, Podiyam Sukki and Kalmu Deve, had gone out to cut wood. During their return on the Godelguda road, the CRPF and district police, holding that the two were suspected Maoists, opened fire in which one woman, Sukki, was killed and another, Kalmu, was injured. Kalmu Deve’s foot was broken. From the Godelguda marg or from the women victims, no Maoist material or weapons were recovered at all. It is clear the innocent adivasi women were fired upon by jawans. The deceased Sukki has four children and the youngest is six months old.”
Lakhma wrote that instances of “fake encounters” would lead to a “loss of confidence” in the government and said that if financial assistance was not given quickly, the adivasi community could lose its faith in the Congress.
“Therefore, 10 lakh rupees to the family of the deceased and a job to a member of the family of Sukki, and Rs 5 lakh to the family of Kalmu Deve should be given, and strict punitive action and suspension of the guilty jawans should take place,” Lakhma wrote.
Meanwhile, after Chhattisgarh Police claimed that 10 Maoists had been killed in the jungles of Abujhmaad in Bijapur district, villagers have alleged that those killed were not Maoists, but local villagers.