People’s Union for Civil Liberties expresses its deep concern at the recent killings of five innocent people in Kandhamal district by the paramilitary forces. The victims are from the Adivasi and dalit communities. Among the killed are one man, three women and a two year old child. No words of condemnation would be enough to censure this inhuman act by the very state whose primary responsibility is to protect the lives and liberties of its citizens.
This is not the first time that innocent blood is being spilled in Odisha or in India in the name of containing Maoism. PUCL has consistently alerted the public that in the name of ‘encounters’ often innocent people are being killed by the security forces, and innocent poor Adivasis are being arrested after branding them as ‘Maoists’. Also, the PUCL has been consistently arguing that a military approach to the Maoist movement is not the solution, and the state must address the roots of this problem. However, what we are seeing is that the state is determined to fight the Maoists by sending in more and more armed forces to the Adivasi areas and ruthlessly killing and arresting innocent people. The killing in Kandhamal on 8th July is the latest in the ongoing wa fought by the state against its own people.
As reported widely in the media, the government has promptly declared a compensation of Rupees five lakhs for the victims’ families and a judicial enquiry. PUCL questions the very intention of the government in doing so. As we have noticed developments in the recent past, ordering a judicial inquiry has become a meaningless exercise, as either the inquiries linger on for years together, or if ever completed the reports are hardly ever made public. In the absence of any punitive action against the guilty officials responsible for killing innocent people, does the government think that it can take a poor Adivasi’s or dalit’s life by throwing Rupees five lakhs at the kin of the deceased?
In the light of experiences of the past one decade of the consequences of state’s anti-Maoist operations, we in PUCL appeal to all concerned citizens to put pressure on the government to seriously review its policy on the Maoist movement.
On this specific incident of killings in Kandhamal, PUCL demands that:
- The government should put the entire anti-Maoist operation team, involved in the killing on 8th July, under suspension and initiate criminal case against it.
- The state government should constitute a Special Investigation Team headed by a former High Court or Supreme Court Judge and this SIT should be constituted under Section-37 of Protection of Human Rights Act 1993. This Team should be entrusted with the task of investigating into not just the killings on 8th July but all the killings in so called ‘encounters’ and ‘cross fire’ that have happened in the last two years in different parts of Odisha.
- An amount to the tune of Rs.25 lakhs at least be given to the next of the kin of each deceased victims and to the tune of Rs.10 lakhs to each of the injured victims.