Bhopal: Residents of a village in Chhattisgarh’s Sukma district have accused the police of opening fire on them at a peaceful protest, during which nine persons died on Monday, hugely contradicting the police version of events. Monday’s shootout was with the Maoists, the police have said, which took place outside their new camp. Three Maoists have died during the exchange of fire, the police have said.
“We don’t want a police camp and so we gathered there to hold a protest… almost 5,000 villagers from 20 villages came here,” said Mangu Podiyam, one of the residents of Chikurbati village, accusing the police of killing nine villagers but handing over only three bodies.
The police, he also alleged, had used batons first on the protesters.
“Those who are killed include Uika Pandu from Teemapura, Bheema Ursam from Gundam, and Kawasi Waga from Sudwa village,” said Rahul Madvi.
The police said the villagers — under pressure from Maoists — were holding protests against the new camp at the site for the last few days.
“On Sunday night, the locals had returned to their villages, but on Monday afternoon, some people, including some Maoists of the Jagargonda Area Committee, reached the camp and started firing,” said P Sunderraj, the Inspector General of Bastar. “The security personnel retaliated, and the exchange of fire continued. After the firing stopped, we found three bodies, which are yet to be identified,” he added.
3 people were killed on Monday in an exchange of fire between security forces and Maoists in front of a newly built camp in Sukma but now the villagers alleged that they were staging a peaceful protest but police opened fire to end it,9 dead. pic.twitter.com/MSozjANaQY
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Police sources said Maoists, mingling with the protesters, had opened fire at the camp. The villagers had started running for their lives. When the Maoists tried to escape along with them, they were chased and shot by the security personnel.
The encounter site is 10 km from the spot where 22 security personnel had died in the line of duty during a Maoist ambush in April.
The CRPF and the local police had walked into an ambush in Bijpaur, when they tried to capture Madvi Hidma of the People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army and Sujatha, an associate.
In the gunbattle that followed, 22 security personnel were killed and more than 30 sustained injuries. Taking cover behind large trees, the heavily outnumbered security personnel had fought back as long as they had ammunition.