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PUCL demands legal action against officials who killed the 20 persons in Bijapur district.

Peoples’ Union for Civil Liberties – Chhattisgarh

Post Box No. 87, Main Post Office, Raipur 492001, C.G.

PUCL demands lodging of FIR and prompt prosecution against delinquent officials who killed the 20 persons in Bijapur district.

Dated: 1st July 2012.

PRESS RELEASE

The reports of independent journalists have now prima facie established that 20 persons killed recently by the police and security forces ostensibly in an “encounter” in the Kotteguda Panchayat of district Bijapur in Bastar region were all local residents of the village. The dead include school going children and a woman and several members of one family. That this fact could be brought to light despite statements of the police authorities and even the Union Home Minister that “hard core” Naxals were killed in an encounter, underlines the repeated assertion of the PUCL that a free and independent press in conflict areas is vital to the protection of civil liberties.

We are extremely dismayed by the statement of the State Home Minister Shri Nankiram Kanwar, issued in response to the Congress party forming a fact finding team into the incident, that, “half the Congress leaders are Maoists”, showing the extent to which all dissent is sought to be viewed with suspicion and is even criminalized in the State.

The National Human Rights Commission, through its guidelines issued on 29.03.1997 and revised guidelines issued on 02.12.2003 have made very clear that in these circumstances the following should be done:-

(a) Since in this case an allegation of crime has been made against the security forces, an FIR must be registered to this effect and the investigation into the allegation must be conducted by an agency independent of the concerned police, such as the State CBCID.

(b) Though the State has already announced a Magisterial Enquiry, that is mandatory in all cases of death in police action, however it should be ensured that the next of kin and the villagers who were witness to the incident are associated with the Enquiry. While the Guidelines clearly state that the next of kin should be “invariably” associated, most magisterial enquiries in the State, such as recently in the case of killings of Meena Khalkho (Sarguja) and Gautam Patel (Mahasamund), have been merely empty formalities.

(c) Prompt prosecution as well as disciplinary action has been mandated against the delinquent officers in the Guidelines which have also explicitly stated that no out-of-turn promotions or gallantry awards should be bestowed on the concerned officers soon after the occurrence.

Chhattisgarh PUCL demands that the guidelines of the NHRC be followed by the State meticulously in letter and spirit in respect of the fake “encounter” of 28th-29th June in the Kotteguda Panchayat, district Bijapur of the Bastar region.

Sudha Bharadwaj

General Secretary