India's fake encounter exposed after 7 years

New Delhi: Nearly seven and a half years after the alleged encounter between Security Forces and alleged Maoists, in which 17 villagers (seven of them minors) were killed and six security personnel and 10 villagers injured in Chhattisgarh’s Bastar region, a court of inquiry has found that there is no evidence to suggest that those who were killed or injured by security forces were Maoists.

Justice V.K. Agrawal, a retired judge of the Madhya Pradesh high court who headed the single-member inquiry commission, said in his report: “It has not been proved that the persons killed and injured in the incident other than security personnel were Naxals as there is no satisfactory evidence in that regard.”

Moreover, the report states that the claim made by the security forces that they fired in response to villagers “does not stand the test of scrutiny.” According to the report, the firing was unilateral and conducted only by personnel of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and the state police.

“The conduct of DIG S. Elango as well as Deputy Commander Manish Bamola [who were leading the operation] of not firing a single bullet shot during the incident, as per their own admission, clearly indicates that there was no firing by the members of the meeting; because had there been firing from the persons present at the meeting both the above senior officers would have certainly fired in retaliation and self-defence,” reads the paragraph 146 of the 76-page report.

Security forces claimed to have killed Maoists in a fierce gunfight in the dense jungles of Bastar on the intervening night of June 28 and 29, 2012. Notably, apart from the villagers killed in the incident, two out of the 10 villagers who were injured – Madkam Soma and Kaka Chenti – were arrested from the hospital as display of alleged proof that Maoists were present during the incident. Both were acquitted by a local court in Bastar’s Jagdalpur last year.

The alleged encounter was projected as a major success by both the then Bharatiya Janata Party state government, as well as the Congress-led Centre. Then Union home minister P. Chidambaram went on to describe it as one of the “biggest offensives against Maoists,” in which three important leaders of the movement were killed, namely Somulu, Nagesh and Mahesh.–Agencies