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Vishakapatnam Encounter: Did Cops Mistake Tribals to be Maoists?

Published: 24th February 2016 06:47 AM  |   Last Updated: 24th February 2016 06:47 AM   |  A+A-

VISAKHAPATNAM:  Controversy surrounds the Visakhapatnam agency encounter near Koyyuru in which two persons were killed by the AP police a few days ago. Though the police had announced that two Maoists were killed in the encounter, the Red rebels did not claim the bodies of the slain Maoists. Charges fly thick and fast against the police that they shot dead Odisha tribal hunters in the mistaken belief that the latter were Maoists. This is to absolve themselves of the charge of false encounter.

According to the information from the tribals, who move in the dense forest area of Andhra-Odisha Border, there are a large number of tribals from Odisha who will go for hunting wild animals like bisons. The tribals, whenever they come face to face with armed forces they never use firearms but surrender before them. On several occasions, the armed forces after verification of their identity released the tribals.

“After examining the bodies and the clothes they wore, the deceased could be hunters. Normally, some of the tribals from Odisha and Chhattisgarh use double barrel guns and country-made pistols. According to preliminary information, the Andhra Pradesh police during the combing operations, suspecting the tribal hunters to be Maoists opened fire and killed them. Meanwhile, according to the unconfirmed information, another injured person is now in the police custody. We are inquiring into the facts. But till now neither the Maoists nor any tribal families from Odisha claimed that their people were killed. As the encounter site is far away, there is delay in obtaining the facts,” said a tribal welfare social worker on condition of anonymity.

Meanwhile, some of the police officers, who have rich experience in the anti-Maoist operations, also expressed doubts over the encounter. They opined that the deceased might not be Maoists.

The post-mortem of the slain persons was completed at Narsipatnam government hospital.  On the encounter episode, Human Rights Forum activist VS Krishna said a fact- finding committee would visit the place to find the truth of the encounter.  As the combing operation has been intensified on the AOB, the tribals are not moving into the forest and the general communication between the tribal hamlets on the AOB is cut off.

Judicial Probe Sought

The Civil Liberties Committee, Visakhapatnam district, demanded a judicial inquiry to find out the facts of the encounter. CLC president T Sreerama  Murthy and secretary PV Ramana expressed their doubts of the encounter theory. They alleged that the two deceased belonged to Gondu tribal sect and went for hunting in the dense forest.

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