RAIPUR: Human rights activists are at loggerheads with Chhattisgarh police over an encounter which resulted in the deaths of two Maoist leaders, each carrying a reward of Rs 5 lakh.
Dantewada police had on Saturday stated that the two members of Malangir Area Committee of CPI (Maoist) Podiya Uike and Lacchu Midiyami were shot dead in an exchange of fire by the District Reserve Guards (DRG) personnel. However, the local villagers along with activists countered that they both were murdered by the forces.
“It was more like a cold-blooded murder and the security personnel involved in it should be booked under Section 302 of the IPC (murder charge)”, social activist Bela Bhatia told Express.
“The two were killed after being picked up by the DRG. There was no encounter as the police are claiming. The victims were known tribal leaders and popular in their villages. Whether they were engaged with the Maoists or not, we don’t know. But in our fact-finding visit we found the two were having some party with other three tribals in school premises late evening when the security personnel came on motorbikes. Two villagers managed to flee from the spot. The forces took three with them. The bodies of two were found the next day while the third named Ajay remained in their custody”, the rights activist stated.
Podiya Uike had earlier served a jail sentence in Dantewada for three years in a case in which the court later acquitted him. He was never a dedicated underground armed Maoist, the villagers claimed and affirmed that he was a prominent tribal leader who may or may not have been working for the rebels in his area.
Meanwhile, the police claimed the two who were killed had various cases registered against them in different police stations. “It all appeared to be stage-managed by some activists who led the villagers to register a protest. Why did the relatives of the two or any villager not lodge any police complaint after the encounter? There was no issue or protest even after the last rites of the two were performed”, Bastar inspector general of police Vivekanand Sinha told Express.
“In encounters, particularly in Bastar zone, usually there are no witnesses. But in this case, besides Ajay, there are two others now who can act as witnesses to narrate the entire story”, Bhatia added.
Kirandul police station in-charge in Dantewada initially claimed that they didn’t have any information about Ajay. But Ajay's mother said the cop had warned her that her son would be languishing in jail for ten years. Activists too wondered why Ajay continued to be in police custody.