A group of activists on a fact-finding mission regarding the six police-Naxal encounters in Gadchiroli this year have alleged that the police killed many alleged Naxals in cold blood without allowing them to surrender.
This,they said,constitutes excessive and unauthorised use of force,and that there is policy at work of not taking prisoners and killing those suspected of being Maoists.
Under the banner of Co-ordination of Democratic Rights Organisation, the activists toured Gadchiroli to meet villagers of Mendhri,Sindesur,Bhagwanpur,Govindgaon and Bhatpar,where the alleged encounters took place.
Harish Dhavan,part of the independent panel,told reporters Monday,Based on what the villagers told us,we inferred that the police were the first to open fire and that they made no announcement asking the alleged Maoists to surrender to avoid loss of life.
In Mendhri,six women Naxals were killed in cold blood and in Bhagwanpur,an alleged poacher met the same fate. In Sindesur,two young boys died in an encounter as collateral damage. Hoardings announcing Rs 10 lakh compensation to the two boys families were erected,but nothing has been given, Dhavan said.
Dhavan also alleged that in Bhatpar,the parents of an alleged woman Naxal killed in an encounter pleaded for her body,but to no avail.
The activists demanded that the policy of shooting to kill,not taking prisoners and of causing maximum damage must go. FIRs of culpable homicide must be registered against the police personnel responsible. A judicial probe should be ordered into the Mendhri,Bhatpar and Bhagwanpur incidents. The judicial magistrate should take eye-witnesses statements at their homes in a duress free atmosphere.
Dhavan spoke about a poster put up in the interiors which proclaims Samanyawar atyachar karal tar polisanchya golinich maram (if you commit atrocities,you will die from police bullets). This promotes trigger-happy attitude, he said.
Asked how the villagers accounts can be relied upon for ascertaining the facts as they invariably claim to have seen nothing,Dhavan said,It was necessary to take their versions since only the police version had come out in the press.
Probe will prove we followed norms: SP
RESPONDING to the activists allegations,Gadchiroli SP Suvez Haq said,The allegation that we fired first is false. Ballistic tests are underway and it will be proved that we fired only in retaliation.
Citing the Nav Jeevan programme where police have been warming up to the families of the active Naxals and seeking their help to get the Naxals to surrender,Haq said,If we were to be trigger-happy,we wouldnt have done this. We have secured record number of surrenders through this programme.
About the poster threatening to kill with police bullets,Haq said,I will check it out where and how these posters were pasted. He also said magisterial probes were in fact on in all cases as against what the activists have claimed. About compensation not being paid to the collateral damage victims,Haq said,We have paid the first installment of Rs 2.5 lakh to them. The rest will be duly paid soon. This can be verified. There is no question of our faking it. ENS