Tension in Chhattisgarh area after CRPF men kill two (Lead)

May 23rd, 2008 - 11:39 pm ICT by admin  

Raipur, May 23 (IANS) Tension gripped Bijapur district of Chhattisgarh Friday after hundreds of tribals gathered to protest the alleged gunning down of two people by troopers of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) at a relief camp in the Maoist-affected area. An enquiry has been ordered into the shooting. Tribals allege that CRPF troopers posted in the interior village of Cherpal allegedly fired at villagers, killing a two-year-old boy, Raju, and a woman Ram Bai, 25, Thursday night. Two others, including a six-year-old boy and a woman, were critically injured.

Tribals allege the trouble began when the CRPF men, deployed at the camp to guard them against Maoist attacks, tried to molest some tribal women of the camp and the male members protested. They said that later the CRPF men asked the men and women members of the camp to come for an urgent meeting and started beating them up and opened fire.

Cherpal, located some 450 km from here, is one of the villages where about 1,200 tribal people have been uprooted due to the civil militia movement, Salwa Judum, launched in June 2005 against Maoist insurgents. The tribals are now settled in a government-run makeshift relief camp.

The Bijapur police have taken Tirupati Rao, a constable with the 188 Battalion of the CRPF, into custody in connection with the firing.

Ankit Garg, superintendent of police, Bijapur, told IANS: “A company of the 188th Battalion of the CRPF was deployed at the Cherpal relief camp. The jawans received information Thursday late night that a hardcore Maoist had entered the camp in civil dress.”

“The jawans advised the camp settlers to immediately come out so that Maoist who had infiltrated into the camp could be identified. But all of a sudden, one person tried to flee, forcing the jawans to open fire,” Garg stated. “A woman and an infant came accidentally in the line of fire and were killed.”

He said a magisterial inquiry has been ordered.

The All India Adivasi Mahasabha has condemned the “brutal attack of CRPF men on innocent civilians” and sought a high-level independent inquiry into the incident.

“The Salwa Judum should be immediately scrapped and relief camp people should be allowed to go back to their native forested villages. Otherwise, the assault on civilians will continue by police and para-military forces,” C. Bakchhi, national vice-president of the Mahasabha, told IANS.

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