Three Jharkhand officials transferred for killing of villagers

May 1st, 2009 - 4:38 pm ICT by IANS  

Ranchi, May 1 (IANS) The Jharkhand government Friday transferred three senior officials in Latehar district after five villagers were allegedly gunned down by the security forces and branded as Maoist rebels last month.
The state government transferred Deputy Commissioner of Latehar Sarvendu Tathagat, Deputy Inspector General of Police (Palamau Range) Nandu Prasad and district Superintendent of Police Hemant Toppo.

“The officials were transferred in light of the encounter in which five villagers were killed. The probe will reveal the fact whether the encounter was fake or villagers were killed by mistake,” an official of the home department told IANS.

On April 15, two Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) troopers and a bus driver were killed in a landmine blast triggered by suspected Maoist rebels near Badahania village of Latehar district.

After the blast, a gun battle allegedly took place between the CRPF and the Maoist rebels. The police claimed that five Maoist rebels were killed in the gun battle.

But the locals contested the claim and said that the killed people were villagers.

Last week, Inspector General of Police Rezi Dundung said that the killed people were villagers not rebels. The statement put the government and the police in the dock and in a face saving measure the officials were shifted out from the district.

While Prasad and Toppo have been asked to report to the headquarters, Tathagat has been shifted to the personnel department in the state headquarters.

The government has instituted a probe to investigate the incident. The probe has been handed over to A.K. Pandey, commissioner of Palamau.

On April 22, Maoists rebels hijacked a passenger train near Hehegara railway station in Latehar district. The train was hijacked by around 300 people and majority of them were villagers supported by rebels.

The train was released after four hours. The hijack drama was part of a move by the villagers and the Maoists to highlight the killings. The rebels have demanded compensation of Rs.10 lakh and jobs to the kin of each killed person.

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