A man was killed and another was injured on Friday morning in Chhattisgarh’s Bijapur district in an episode described by the police as “a possible crossfire with Naxals”-and contested by locals as “unprovoked firing”.
The deceased, 50-year-old Dubba Kanhaiya, suffered a wound in his abdomen, and died en route to a hospital. He, along with other residents of Pusagadi village, had stepped out to collect mahua, a common forest produce in the area, early in the morning.
“We all were trying to hunt some birds and had come near the national highway, close to our homes. We heard the security personnel and they asked us where we were from. One of us responded with our village name and the men started shooting us,” Anganpalli Kishteya, a villager who was with Kanhaiya, wrote in his complaint to the police.
The incident occurred just off the main road connecting Avapalli to Jagargunda in Bijapur, barely 2km from a CRPF camp. “The men had gone looking for mahua when they came across the security forces. The men started firing, without provocation,” another villager said. “After that, some of our men were dragged to the main road and left there,” he added
According to Bastar IG P Sundarrajan, the two men were caught in a crossfire and were not Naxals. “The CRPF company had gone for an operation. It is possible that the two men were caught in crossfire between Naxals and the forces. As soon as we realized that they are local residents, the men were evacuated and sent to the district hospital,” he said.
The injured man, Yalam Dharmaiya (35), suffered a gunshot below his knee. He has a leg fracture.
“FIRs should be lodged against the men who sprayed bullets on us for being 50m away from our houses,” the villagers of Pusagadi wrote in a complaint letter to the Modakpal police.
“We are initiating a thorough inquiry into what happened and how the men came under the crossfire. The CRPF men were conducting an exercise and possibly exchanged shots with Naxals, who ran away. We have immediately given Rs 10,000 to the family of the deceased. We will take the statements of the injured man as well, as soon as we can,” Sundarraj said.