Eye-witness testimonies to a commission inquiring into an encounter between security forces and tribals in Chhattisgarh’s Bijapur district that took place three years ago and left 17 villagers dead suggest that the police fired without provocation. Scroll.in has copies of the testimonies of both villagers and key officers involved in the event, which took place on June 28, 2012 in Sarkeguda, Kotteguda and Rajpenta villages. These testimonies support the villagers’ claims that they were at a meeting to plan a tribal sowing festival, and were unarmed, over the claims of the officers, who said the villagers were Maoist guerrillas who fired at them.
“During the meeting, the police came and started firing from all directions, shouting ‘pakdo, firing karo (catch them and fire),” said Sarke Pulayya, a 22-year-old resident of Sarkeguda village, in his testimony to the inquiry commission. “We shouted that we were villagers, but they still did not stop.” The encounter took place at night in an open field between the three villages. The morning brought to light the blood-soaked bodies of young people lying on a sheet of tarpaulin. Of those killed, three were teenagers. The security forces incurred no casualties. Many villagers were injured, while the testimonies raise questions about the causes of the injuries sustained by some of the policemen.
…Also, on March 14, a Maoist operative was killed during an encounter with the security forces in Lohardaga town of Jharkhand. Heavy arms and ammunition were also recovered during the search operations after the encounter.