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Tuesday, June 15, 2021

In Chhattisgarh, magisterial inquiry ordered into firing deaths

The police had earlier declared the deceased to be affiliated with Maoists, a charge their families denied.

By: Express News Service | Sukma |
Updated: May 24, 2021 7:00:30 am
The three children (from left) of one of those killed. (Express Archive)

Six days after three men from tribal communities were killed in firing following a clash with security personnel in Chhattisgarh’s Silger, the collector of Sukma district on Sunday ordered a magisterial inquiry into the incident.

The police had earlier declared the deceased to be affiliated with Maoists, a charge their families denied.

The order for the magisterial probe was passed when representatives of the protesting people from tribal communities met the Inspector General of Police and the collectors of Sukma and Bijapur districts on Sunday.

More than 5,000 people from over 30 villages have been protesting for the last 10 days against the decision to set up a security camp at Silger, Sukma. On May 17, three people died in firing when a crowd of over 3,000 suddenly approached the camp after the local protesters had left, destroying the camp’s fences and attacking police personnel, according to a police statement issued earlier this week.

“Amidst the crowd of tribals were Maoists, who started firing indiscriminately, which led to a stampede-like situation. The Maoists didn’t heed to warnings of officials, and thus, our personnel had to fire back…” the police had stated.

The police also identified the three deceased as Maoist operatives, while families and local residents called them innocent.

On Sunday, people protesting near Silger camp traveled 17 km to Hirapur village, near Basaguda, to meet the officials and discuss plausible solutions.

They returned Rs 10,000 provided to the family of deceased trio, and demanded an independent inquiry into the matter. Sukma collector Vinit Nandanwar announced the magisterial probe and requested the protesting people to go home until the probe report is submitted.

“The probe has been set up under the executive magistrate and the report is expected to be submitted within a month,” Nandanwar said.

People from villages in the area, along with members of Sarva Adiwasi Samaj, attended the meeting and recounted incidents of what they called “police brutality” over the years. “Security personnel picked up a neighbour at 3 am and he was beaten badly. The security personnel do not do anything as long as senior officers are there, but once they leave we are subjected to beatings,” one villager, Hunga, 32, alleged.

The district officials assured them that their complaints would be sent to higher-ups at the Central and state government levels and urged them to stop the protest.

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