Kituba (Odisha) Fake Encounter – HRF Statement

July 12, 2019

Press Release

The Human Rights Forum (HRF) demands that personnel of the Special Operations Group (SOG) and District Voluntary Force (DVF) who participated in the killing of 5 Maoists near Kituba village of Badel panchayat in Nandapur block, Koraput district of Odissa on May 8 this year be booked for murder under IPC 302 and other relevant provisions of the penal code and criminally prosecuted. 

A three-member HRF fact-finding team visited Kituba village on Thursday (June 6) and spoke with residents in the area. We were able to ascertain that there is no truth in the official version that a combined team of the SOG and DVF came upon the Maoists in the Badel forests upon which the Maoists initially opened fire and the security forces returned the fire in self-defence leading to the death of five Maoists.

What in fact took place on May 8 was that a Maoist squad which was present in a fairly thick grove adjacent to Kituba had asked the residents for food. At about 1 pm, Kituba villagers had taken food to the grove but before the Maoists could eat it, the SOG and DVF numbering over 20 descended on the area and opened fire straightaway killing five Maoists. There was no exchange of fire for about an hour as claimed by the police, nor was any warning given to the Maoists to surrender. The firing was unilateral and intended to kill.

It will not suffice for senior police officials to claim that their men retaliated in self-defence and the five Maoists were killed in the subsequent exchange of fire. The police simply cannot file closure reports without judicial scrutiny and for that to happen FIRs under appropriate sections of the penal law have to be filed against police personnel who took part in the alleged encounter.

Also, for justice to be done, the criminal investigation into the case must not be done by the Odissa police but must be handed over to either the CBI or a criminal investigation team as independent of the State police as possible. 

It has become a fairly well established practise for security forces to hunt down Maoists, even if the possibility of apprehension exists, as if they are wild game. HRF is of the opinion that an insurgency that deploys violence cannot be used as an excuse by the State to disregard and flout human rights.

We urge the Odissa government to ensure that the police are made accountable and they function within the ambit of the law fully respecting people’s rights and the rule of law. It must stop viewing the Maoist movement as mere crime that can be annihilated with the deployment of more and more security forces with licence to commit murder. It must treat that movement, despite the violence that the Maoists deploy, as essentially a political movement and must address it, in principal, politically.

VS Krishna — HRF AP&TS Coordination Committee member

K Sudha — HRF AP State general secretary

7-6-2019

Visakhapatnam