Tribals, rights activists seek recall of CRPF troopers

May 24th, 2008 - 8:53 pm ICT by admin  

Raipur, May 24 (IANS) Hundreds of tribals in Chhattisarh’s Maoist hotbed Bijapur district Saturday sought the recall of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) from a forested village after the troopers allegedly shot dead two people, including a child. Tribals allege that CRPF troopers posted at a relief camp in the interior village of Cherpal fired at camp residents, killing a two-year-old boy, Raju, and a woman, Ram Bai, 25, Thursday night. Two other camp settlers - a six-year-old boy and a woman - were critically injured.

Chief Minister Raman Singh, who expressed “deep shock” over the firing, has ordered a magisterial inquiry. Bijapur sub-divisional magistrate R.R. Thakur has been asked to conduct the probe and submit his report within a week.

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

Hundreds of tribals who demonstrated at district headquarters Bijapur town against the shootout Friday have announced they would step up protests to demand to recall CRPF from the village.

Several non-government organisations and human rights activists have started reaching Cherpal village to support the tribals.

Tribals allege the trouble began when some CRPF troopers tried to molest tribal women of the camp and the male members protested.

Ankit Garg, superintendent of police of Bijapur, told IANS: “CRPF jawans deployed at the Cherpal relief camp 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 the 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, and accidentally a woman and an infant came in the line of fire and were killed.”

The Indian government has deployed 17 CRPF battalions in Chhattisgarh, the second largest deplotyment of the central police force after the one in Jammu and Kashmir.

“This is an extra-judicial killings. The CRPF men must be prosecuted immediately. We demand a CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) inquiry into the act to do justice to the local innocent tribal population,” said Subhash Mohapatra of the Forum for Fact-finding Documentation and Advocacy.

The All India Adivasi Mahasabha 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.R. Bakchhi, national vice-president of the Mahasabha, told IANS.

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