Committee to inquire into alleged police rampage

“We harvest only one crop a year in January and that feeds us for the whole year,” said Kowasi Joga, who says his granary held about 70 quintals of grain. “Everything is burnt, what will I eat?” he asked. (File Photo)
Raipur, March 23 (Agencies): Amid allegations of security personnel going on the rampage in tribal villages, burning houses and assaulting women in a remote area in Naxalite affected Dantewada, the administration is setting up a joint committee of elected representatives, civilians and officials on Wednesday to check the veracity of the complaints.  “We have not received complaints from anyone so far. Almost a week after the encounter, there are some media reports about burning of houses and alleged brutalities by the security forces. We are setting up a committee to verify these charges,” Dantewada District Collector R Prasanna told The Indian Express.
“It’s a very remote location in Konta block. We don’t know whether any houses were burnt and if so, who set them ablaze—the security forces as is being alleged or the Maoists themselves,” he said adding, “the administration is issuing an order today to set up a committee to look into the reports of alleged atrocities by the security personnel. “If any houses were found to be burnt or damaged, we will provide compensation—irrespective of who did it,” Prasanna said. On March 14, a contingent of security personnel—comprising of “Koya commandos,” a Special Police Officers (SPO) wing of the state police—were ambushed by armed Naxalites at Modpalli near Tadmetla—where the rebels had massacred 76 security personnel in April six last year. The encounter continued for several hours which left a constable and two SPOs dead and nine others injured. The police pressed a helicopter into service to airlift the injured and evacuate the bodies of slain security personnel even as additional reinforcements, comprising of paramilitary forces, were deployed for combing operations in the area.
Subsequently, the police had also claimed that security forces had gunned down more than 30 Maoist cadres during the encounter, but could recover the body of only one Naxalite. The police maintain that the Maoists always took away bodies of their slain comrades. More than a week after the encounter, reports have come in from the remote Chintalnar area that security forces went on a rampage after the encounter, set ablaze houses and even molested tribal women in several villages around Modpalli. Dantewada district senior Superintendent of police S R P Kalluri dismissed the charges as “usual propaganda by Maoists and their sympathizers.” “Nobody has come forward to lodge any complaints with the police. I have not received any complaints so far,” he said.
The Inspector General of Police (Bastar range) T J Longkumer said, “It’s all propaganda. Every time whenever the Maoists suffer losses in any police action, they unleash such propaganda. It’s their tactics. Since the matter has come to light, we will inquire into it. Let us see what comes out.” He said the Maoists normally use the sangam members—the grass root level supporters of the Naxalites—to unleash such propaganda, portraying them as “civilians.” Meanwhile, sources in Dornapal said the security forces are preventing “outsiders” from proceeding towards Chintalnar area, citing security reasons. The 58 km long stretch from Dornapal to Jagargunda—which passes through Kankerlanka, Chintalnar, Chintagufa—is supposed to be a mined area where the Maoists have a very strong presence.