Probe ordered into killing of villagers in Jharkhand

April 25th, 2009 - 2:01 pm ICT by IANS  

Ranchi, April 25 (IANS) The Jharkhand government Saturday ordered a probe into the killing of five villagers following the ambush of a bus carrying Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel by Maoists April 15.
A home ministry official said the probe will be conducted by an official of magistrate rank and the report will be submitted in a week.

On April 15, a bus carrying around 80 CRPF personnel was ambushed near Badania village of Latehar district. The security personnel were on their way to election duty.

Maoist rebels first detonated a landmine and then started firing indiscriminately. The security personnel retaliated with gunfire.

Police had said that while two CRPF men and the bus driver were killed in the explosion, five Maoist rebels were killed in the gunbattle.

However, local residents said the civilians killed in the incident were innocent villagers. The outlawed Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) also said that the dead were not rebels and called a shutdown April 22 to protest the killing.

The guerrillas hijacked a passenger train in Latehar April 22 to highlight the issue and enforce the shutdown and demanded compensation of Rs.1 million to the kin of each of the dead and a government job.

On Friday, Inspector General of Police (Ranchi Range) Rezi Dundung told reporters in Latehar that the killed people were not Maoist rebels but villagers. Of the five dead, one was a student, another was an employee of Central Coalfiled Limited (CCL) and rest were farmers.

The initial inquiry was conducted by Deputy Inspector General of Police (Pamalau Range) Nandu Prasad.

“The postmortem report said that four of them died due to the landmine blast and the fifth sustained bullet injuries,” said Dundung.

However, Villagers alleged that the killed people were dragged out of their houses and shot dead from close range by the CRPF personnel.

“The CRPF personnel who were ambushed later engaged in a gunbattle with Maoist rebels. It seems that Maoist rebels had used the villagers against the CRPF. The probe will clear everything,” said an official at the police headquarters here.

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