Chhattisgarh: Villagers allege police fired, killed peaceful protesters at Sukma security camp

Protests continue outside the camp, while police claim three Maoists were killed during the exchange of fire


Police opened fire on peaceful protesters, say residents of a village in Chhattisgarh’s Sukma district. Nine people have been reported dead in the violence, reports NDTV. The villagers have contradicted the police version of events that a shootout that took place on Monday was with “Maoists”. The firing took place outside the new CRPF camp. According to the police version, “three Maoists have died during the exchange of fire,” reported NDTV.

The CRPF security camp near Silger village still bears “signs of Monday’s clash”, reported Indian Express. There is the ‘debris’ of “strewn stones, charred tree trunks, embers, and the dented windshield of a bulletproof anti-landmine vehicle.” As per the IE report, for the past four days, tribals from over 30 villages of Sukma and Bijapur have gathered in protest outside the camp. A protester Korsa Somaru, 65, told the IE, that since they had been camping here for many days and were now low on ration, they had planned to submit a memorandum against the camp seeking its removal, and return to the villages. However, things have changed since the firing and the deaths of their own have fuelled their resolve to continue the protest.

The security forces meanwhile continue to alleged that it was “Naxal cadres, in the garb of protesting villagers,” attacked the Silger camp with “stones and gunshots… our men returned the fire and managed to bring the situation under control,” Bastar IG P Sundarraj told IT. Police also detained five people, including a woman, and according to IE even the dead bodies have not been handed over to the villagers. Police claim the bodies “have not yet been identified”. However, the villagers told the media that the dead were “protesters” named Kawasi Wagha, 37, from Chutwai; Korsa Bhima, 32, from Gundam; and Uika Murali, 22, from Timmapuram.

The Indian Express’s report from the spot states that villager alleged they “were beaten up by the security forces” when they went to submit the memorandum. “We also got angry and some of our people pelted stones at their vehicles and at the camp. First, the security personnel threw tear gas bombs, and then opened fire,” Krishna Kadti, 18, a Class 12 student from Jagargunda told IE adding, “people in the front fell, some of them died. When we tried to go get their bodies, we were lathi-charged again. That led to a stampede and several people fell over each other.”

According to NDTV, the  police maintain that the villagers were staging  protests against the new camp “under pressure from Maoists”. P Sunderraj, the Inspector General of Bastar told mediapersons, “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. The security personnel retaliated, and the exchange of fire continued. After the firing stopped, we found three bodies, which are yet to be identified.” Eighteen people were injured in the incident, reported IE, 11 people were admitted at the Sukma field hospital, seven were taken to the Bijapur district hospital.

However, there still seems no “official” response to the allegations that the villagers were beaten up by the police when they went to submit the memorandum. Nor is there any answer to why the security forces opened fire at the villagers who they alleged had pelted stones at them. 


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