Three tribals of Kalahandi, out in the forest to herd goats, were allegedly shot dead and two minor boys injured by anti-Maoist police force Special Opertion Group in a reserve forest in Kalahandi district yesterday.
On Sunday morning, a group of tribals from Nisanguda village under Jugasaipatna grampanchayat of Bhawanipatna block had gone to look for the missing goats of panchayat wardmember Jay Majhi when they came under fire from the SOG and DVF personnel, who thought them to be Maoists. Within minutes wardmember Majhi and two others — Jaya Shankar Naik and Sukru Majhi — fell to the police bullets.
Two minor boys, Arjun Majhi and Ichhu Majhi, were seriously injured in the firing. The two boys were first admitted to a local hospital in Bhawanipatna and then taken to VSS Medical College and Hospita in Burla town of Sambalpur.
While villagers alleged that the deceased were all innocent and had no links with Maoists, Kalahandi SP Brijesh Rai said the police team were combing the Karlapat forest after receiving specific intelligence inputs about Maoist movement. Rai said the police team came under fire a few hours after the combing operation started. “The villagers died during the crossfire,” he said. Four country-made guns were found from the spot.
The three bodies have been taken for post mortem.
Kalahandi SP Brijesh Rai said the villagers are believed to have come in the line of fire during the encounter. “Illegal fire-arms, probably meant for hunting, were found from the spot,” he said.
Officials claimed during the combing, the police found a camp where a diesel genset was recovered. They also claimed recovery of .303 rifles.
In July this year, a Dalit man and his wife in Kandhamal were similarly shot dead by SOG personnel mistaking them to be Maoists. Dalit Christian Dhuba Nayak (50) and his wife Bhubudi Nayak of Pangalapadar village in Kotgarh block of Kandhamal had gone to a hillock to make a phone call when they three were stopped by a bunch of Special Operations Group personnel. The Nayak couple were then allegedly shot dead by the SOG jawans which the Kandhamal police passed off as an “encounter with Maoists”. The police even showed some
country-made rifles, jerrycans and some kitbags to local journalists to claim it was a “successful Maoist encounter”. The incident is being probed by NHRC.