RAYAGADA: Dongria Kondhs under the banner of Niyamgiri Surakhya Samiti (NSS) on Tuesday said the person killed in an encounter on February 27 was not a Maoist as claimed by the police but a tribal youth.
Convenor of NSS Ladda Sikaka claimed that the victim was a Dongria Kondh. From the photo published in different media, he identified the youth as Manda Kadraka (21) of Dangamati village under Kalyansinghpur police limits. The police had not allowed the tribals to see the face of the deceased on the day of the incident, he alleged.
Sikaka, who chaired a meeting attended by over 100 Dongria Kondhs, told mediapersons that on the fateful day, Manda and his friend Dambu Karsika had gone to the jungle to collect ‘salapha’ (local liquor) at around 4 am as their three-day ‘Ghati Parba’ festival was going on in Niyamgiri hills.
Karsika fled on hearing the gunfire. “The encounter shown by police was a fabricated one,” said Manda’s brother Drika Kadraka at the meeting.
When the police were taking the body after the encounter, the villagers of Dangamati demanded to see its face but police did not allow them, said Sikaka.
NSS demanded the body to be handed over to Kadraka family at Parshali village under Kalyansinghpur police limits and ex gratia of `50 lakh. They also demanded action against the police involved in the fake encounter. They have threatened to resort to road block and gherao police station if their demands go unheard. NSS youth president Sambu Huika was present at the meeting.
Meanwhile, police are yet to identify the body of the man killed in the February 27 encounter.
General secretary of Samajbadi Jana Parishad national committee Lingaraj Ajad also endorsed the statements of Sikaka.
On February 27, police had launched a combing operation in Niyamgiri hills during which they opened fire on a group of Maoists. The exchange of fire continued for about 45 minutes after which the rebels fled to the forest.
In the search operation after the encounter, police found the body of one person, who they claimed was a Maoist. Police had also recovered large number of arms and ammunition.