Judicial panel that probed 2012 encounter in Chhattisgarh says none of 17 tribals killed were Maoist
A judicial commission that probed an alleged encounter in which 17 people were killed in June 2012 at Sarkeguda in Chhattisgarh’s Bijapur district said in its report that security forces unilaterally fired on villagers and concluded that there was no evidence to suggest that any of the deceased was a Maoist.
The report which was tabled in the state Assembly on Monday by Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, was widely shared on social media on Sunday, prompting the opposition BJP to move a breach of privilege notice against the CM.
“All the facts of the report will be taken consideration and then action will be taken against the culprits because report says that innocent tribals were killed in the encounter,” Baghel later told reporters.
The one-member judicial commission was headed by Justice V K Agrawal, a retired judge of the Madhya Pradesh High Court.
On June 29, 2012 a team of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and Chhattisgarh Police allegedly gunned down 17 people, including seven minors at Sarkeguda village in Bijapur of Bastar region.
The security forces had then claimed that they had an exchange of fire with Maoists during their operation based on inputs about the presence of ultras in the area.
After human right activists raised the issue, the then BJP government ordered a judicial inquiry.
The report concluded that “the security forces opened fire unilaterally on members (villagers) of the meeting from close quarters, killing and injuring many of them. There was no firing by members of the meeting”.
“This firing probably resulted out of panic of some security personnel when they were confronted with an unexpected meeting of villagers so late in the night. Injuries to six security personnel occurred due to firing by fellow troopers,” the report stated.
It also said that the police investigation into the incident was “manipulated and dishonest”, and there was no evidence to show that any of the deceased or injured villagers was a Maoist.
“There was no satisfactory evidence that Maoists were present in the meeting…Persons who assembled for the meeting or those killed or injured, at least some of them admittedly had criminal antecedents,” the report said.
The opposition BJP moved a breach of privilege notice against Chief Minister Baghel over the alleged leak of the report.
“How can such an important report be leaked outside while the House was in session? Members of this House should have been informed about the report and it should have been tabled in the House. Instead, we are getting to know about if from newspapers,” former chief minister Raman Singh said.