Activists raise questions on arrest of 8 alleged Maoists by Sukma police
Sukma Police said that the arrests took place during an “area domination operation” of the CoBRA and the District Force of police
Raising questions on the arrest of eight alleged Maoists in Chhattisgarh’s Sukma district, human rights activists and tribal bodies on Saturday claimed they were innocent tribals and were returning from the Silger protest on November 2, officials said.
On Saturday, Sukma police claimed that eight Maoists, six of them collectively carrying a reward of ₹17 lakh on their heads, were arrested from a forest near Morpalli village under Chintalnar police station limits on Thursday during an “area domination operation” of the CoBRA (Commando Battalion for Resolute Action), an elite unit of the CRPF, and the District Force of police.
Police said that they arrested Kawasi Raju alias Santu, a battalion member, and Kalmu Mada (25), a militia company commander, who were carrying rewards of ₹8 lakh and ₹5 lakh respectively. Others arrested included Komram Kanna (38), Madkam Hidma (29), Tursam Mudraj (45) and Madkam Enka (25), who carried rewards of ₹1 lakh each; and Madkam Soma (32) and Madkam Mutta (40).
Police further claimed that security forces also recovered 35 detonators, six gelatin rods, two Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), batteries, wires and other materials from their possession, the SP said.
On Saturday, Bela Bhatia, a human rights activist working in the Bastar region, in a press conference on the arrests, claimed that those arrested were innocent tribals.
Bhatia released a press note in which she stated, “ The Mool Niwasi Bachao Manch held an Aam Sabha on November 1 as part of a long drawn protest against police camps in Silger in which many lawyers, activists and other prominent people participated. People from far off places of Sukma also came to take part in the protest. On November 2, 55 people took their bicycles and started returning home. They were intercepted in the forests of Morpalli by approximately 150 policemen and were taken to Chintalnar police station. Out of 55, eight have been booked under the arms and explosives act while the rest of them were released. Of the released 47, one woman is still missing and hasn’t returned to her family.”
“When I met them, those eight people reiterated that they weren’t presented in front of the magistrate on November 5 which is a clear violation of the law. They have been framed in a false case and we demand their immediate release,” the letter further read.
Meanwhile, district police said that the allegations against the security forces are baseless and the tribals were rescued by eight Maoists who were arrested by police.
“The police actually rescued the innocent tribals from the Maoists... The eight arrested Maoists were forcibly taking these villagers to various meetings and protests. The arrested Maoists were found with explosives and were booked under the arms and explosives act. When the security forces intercepted them the Maoists started running and that’s when the CoBRA apprehended them,” said Superintendent of Police, Sukma, Sunil Sharma.