PUCL team rebuts police on Bijapur encounter, says it was extra-judicial killing | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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PUCL team rebuts police on Bijapur encounter, says it was extra-judicial killing

May 22, 2024 05:18 PM IST

On May 12, 12 Maoists were killed in an encounter with the security forces in Chhattisgarh’s Bijapur district

Raipur: A team of People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) visited the Pedia village in Chhattisgrah’s Bijapur district, where 12 alleged Maoists were killed on May 10 and claimed in its report that the villagers “clearly stated that it was by no means an encounter” as claimed by the police but a clear case of extra-judicial killings by the security forces.

At least 103 Maoists have been killed till May 10 this year (ANI Photo)
At least 103 Maoists have been killed till May 10 this year (ANI Photo)

On May 12, two days after 12 Maoists were killed in an encounter with the security forces in Chhattisgarh’s Bijapur district, villagers and activists alleged that it was a “fake encounter and those killed were civilians who were later branded by police as insurgents”.

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However, police refuted the claims and said that all killed in the encounter were Maoists.

Deputy inspector general of police of South Bastar region Kamalochan Kashyap had then said, “The Maoists changed clothes and mingled with the villagers. All of the deceased were Maoists, not villagers. The villagers had come to take the dead bodies of the Maoists who were their relatives.”

The PUCL team comprised activists and tribal, including Sori, Rinchin, Hidme Madkam, Sukalu Kothari and Virendra Bharadwaj.

“Upon visiting the alleged encounter site and meeting with affected villagers and family members of those who were killed, villagers clearly stated that it was by no means an encounter as claimed by the police but in fact a clear case of an extra-judicial killing by the security forces, where villagers engaged in their daily activities were surrounded, hunted down and shot by the police,” the PUCL stated in its report.

It stated that people from two villages fled into the surrounding forests for shelter on hearing rounds of firing.

“Some of them had climbed up onto trees for safety, where the police found them and surrounded them. Despite several pleas from them and other villagers – all of whom were just seeing to their daily tasks in the village and were unarmed, police and paramilitary personnel opened fire and killed them,” the report stated.

Also Read: Chhattisgarh: Maoists allege Bijapur encounter fake, police deny allegation

The report further claimed that there was no evidence of any kind of cross-firing.

“A young woman, Suneeta Kunjam, who was among the 11 killed, had climbed up onto a tree and was shot. Eyewitnesses repeatedly stressed that people had cried out several times to the police, saying they were unarmed and to stop shooting, but none of these cries were heeded. Villagers also said that the police barged into their homes, ransacked them and beaten up many of the women”, the report claimed.

The PUCL demanded that a high-level enquiry should be done and the complaints of the families of the victims of the firing by security forces should be accepted by the police.

The team also demanded that a first information report (FIR) should be filed against the security forces and compensation should be provided to the kin of those killed.

Meanwhile, Bijapur superintendent of police Jitendra Yadav dismissed the claims and said that those killed in the encounter on May 12 were all Maoists.

“Those killed were Maoists, and the villagers know this very well,” Yadav said.

According to police, the insurgents, after they saw the movement of the security forces in the jungle, changed their uniforms and mingled with the local villagers in civilian clothes.

At least 103 Maoists have been killed till May 10 this year alone, more than the 22 and 30 killed in all of 2022 and 2023, respectively. In the biggest anti-Maoist operation in recent decades, the security forced killed 29 rebels in Kanker district on April 16.

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