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Demand for fair judicial enquiry into 'fake encounter killing' of two Odisha tribals

Counterview Desk 

The civil rights group Forum Against Corporatization And Militarization (FACAM), sharply criticising the “killing” of two tribal villagers in forests of Koraput district of Odisha, calling it “yet another fake encounter”, has said said that It is important to understand that it is part of the politics of killing people by branding them as ‘Maoist’.
In a statement, FACAM said, Despite judicial commission reports finding such encounters fake, “no action has been taken on the security personnel responsible for the massacre of people and brutal violation of human rights.” “Instead”, it added, “The pro-people forces and individuals standing with the kith and kin of the massacred people in their struggle for justice are targeted.”

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On November 10, 2022, police claimed to have killed two Maoists in Ramgiri Forest Area of Boipariguda block of Koraput district in Odisha. According to the police, a combing operation was launched by Special Operations Group in the said region after receiving Intel about 15-20 Maoists camping, were fired upon by them and were killed in retaliatory firing.
The two were identified as Dhana Khamar, a native of Sargiguda village under Malkangiri police limits, and Jaya Kumar Nag of Nuagada within Kosagumunda police limits in Nabarangpur. Relatives of Nag and Khamar claim that the encounter is fake and they are daily wage labourers having no links with the Maoist organization.
On 13th November, the relatives, along with hundreds of villagers also blocked NH 326 near Kotameta for hours to demand compensation for the family of the deceased and enquiry into the fake encounter. National Human Rights Commission has also sought an action taken report in the alleged encounter within four weeks.
It is important to understand that such practices of killing people by branding them as ‘Maoist’ has a long history in India. From Salwa Judum to Operation Green-Hunt, hundreds of people have been killed in dozens staged or fake encounters. Every time the story of the police remains standard i.e. the naxals opened fire and were killed in retaliation.
There have been instances of security forces dressing up dead villagers in guerrilla outfits and portraying them as slain Maoists. The judicial commission reports of Sarkeguda and Edesmetta fake encounters are a glimpse to the politics of encounter that is becoming a normal, day by day. In both, Sarkeguda and Edesmetta fake encounters, 17 and 8 people respectively were killed by security forces and were later claimed to be Maoists killed in exchange of fire.
Despite judicial commission reports finding it to be false, no action has been taken on the security personnel responsible for the massacre of people and brutal violation of human rights. Instead, the pro-people forces and individuals standing with the kith and kin of the massacred people in their struggle for justice are targeted.
After the fine imposed by Supreme Court on human rights activist Himanshu Kumar for approaching the court to appeal for justice in the Gompad massacre case, human rights activist Degree Prasad Chauhan is being targeted by the Union government for petitioning in the Edesmetta fake encounter case. The Union government has appealed to impose a fine and initiate legal proceedings against Degree Prasad for “perjury and fabrication of evidence”, following the precedence of imposing fine on Himanshu Kumar in Gompad case.
Despite judicial commission reports findings, no action has been taken on security personnel responsible for fake encounters
The insensitivity with which the judicial commission reports are being ignored in fake encounter cases, imposing fine on petitioners demanding justice, and complete lack of action against the security personnel responsible for such horrendous crimes, are the contributing factors in granting impunity to security forces to go on a killing spree.
Such fake encounters should be strongly opposed and the officers responsible should be held accountable so as to not let ‘trigger happy’ personnel snatch valuable life of people. Encounter as a means to maintain “law and order” should anyhow be opposed as a normal modus operandi, because the encounter rules out the possibility of trial and principles of natural justice in ascertaining one’s crimes and awarding them suitable punishment.
Forum Against Corporatization and Militarization believes that the killing of two tribal villagers in forests of Koraput is yet another fake encounter and condemns it in harshest tone. It equivocally condemns the targeting of human rights activist Degree Prasad Chauhan for demanding justice in Edesmetta fake encounter and demand the following:
  1. Conduct a fair judicial enquiry into the alleged encounter of Dhana Khamar and Jaya Kumar Nag in forest of Koraput.
  2. Grant compensation of Rs 30 lakh each, as demanded by the family of the deceased.
  3. Stop Targeting human rights activist Degree Prasad Chauhan.
  4. Punish the perpetrators of Edesmetta and Sarkeguda fake encounters and Gompad Massacre.
  5. Repeal draconian laws like UAPA and stop aggressive militarization in these areas to safeguard the plunder of natural resources by corporates in the garb of ‘security’. 
  6. Stop Operation Samadhan-Prahar.

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