Hundreds of Villagers Protest Against ‘Fake’ Encounter Killing in Sukma, Police Deny

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Hundreds of villagers have been demonstrating over alleged fake encounter killing in the Chintagufa police station area of ​​Sukma district for three days. The villagers alleged that Kunjam Bhima, who was killed in a fake encounter by security forces on July 25, demanded a fair investigation.

The police however have dismissed the allegations as baseless. The Superintendent of police Sunil Sharma said militia commander Kunjam Bhima was killed in the encounter. A gun was also recovered and five Naxalite cases were registered. “After explaining this to the villagers, the villagers had returned to the village to discuss,” he said.

On Wednesday, about 700 meters from Chintagufa police station, neighbouring villagers joined the protest in large numbers.

Deva, a relative of the alleged militia said Bhime was sleeping on the night of July 25 when police personnel reached Padiguda village and picked up Bhima. His wife, Kunjami Bhime has questioned officials on reason behind the arrest but the authorities gave no response. The next day, Kunjami and her family reached the police station and was told that her husband was dead.

After the incident, villagers have gathered at the police station and have held demonstrations. Villagers say Kunjam was murdered and claim he was not a Maoist and the recovered gun did not belong to him. “He was not a Maoist, he was just a farmer living with his wife in their village. Police claimed that a country-made gun was recovered from the spot, but Kunjam did not have any gun. The one who has the gun lives in the forest, not in the village with his wife… We want action against those who killed him,” said Ravi Sodhi, one of the protesters,” said protestor Ravi Sodhi.

Ganesh, another villager said the protests are being held against the police as they are targeting the villagers instead of the Maoists, “If they do not raise their voice against this violence now, they will all be victims,” said Ganesh.

However, the police allege the protests are being held by the villagers on instructions from the Naxals.

“After persuading the villagers, they went back to the village,” said Sharma. “The villagers were told that Kunjam was involved in five Naxal incidents. The Naxals are instigating them, the allegations being made are baseless,” he added.

Human rights activists working in Bastar believe that fake “encounters” have increased in the past six months and security forces are now targeting soft targets. “Usually, the DRG is involved and those killed are easy targets. Recent incidents in the districts follow a similar pattern, leading to the conclusion that what is happening is a part of the policy,” said activist Bela Bhatia.

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