2 people gunned down by AP cops were Odisha tribals, not naxals, says HRF
News Courtesy: The Times of India, April 3, 2016
Visakhapatnam: Stating that the two persons killed by the AP Greyhounds in the forest of this district on February 21 were innocent tribals from Odisha and not naxals as claimed by the police, the Human Rights Forum (HRF) on Saturday demanded that the police personnel responsible for the killing be booked under the relevant penal actions and criminally prosecuted.
The AP police had said that a Greyhounds combing team ran into a group of naxals and after being fired upon, returned the fire in which two members belonging to the Galikonda area committee were killed and a third member injured.
However, according to the HRF, the two persons killed were Adivasis Ganga Madkami (40) and Ganga Podiami (33), and the injured is Irma Kawasi (50). They were killed on the afternoon of February 21, 2016 in the Puttakota forest area of Koyyuru mandal in Visakhapatnam district, said the HRF.
According to a press release, a two-member HRF team visited several villages in Korukonda block of Malkangiri district on March 31, 2016, to elicit the facts about the alleged encounter at Puttakota that resulted in the death of two Adivasis and bullet injuries to one person. The team visited Balakati village in Dudametta panchayat, the native village of the two deceased and spoke with residents and family members. The team also visited Tumasapalli village and spoke to injured Adivasi Irma Kawasi.
“Contrary to the fiction being peddled by the AP police including senior officials, Madkami and Podiami were not members of the Galikonda area committee of the Maoists. Nor was there any exchange of fire as the police have maintained. In matter of fact, there was no provocation of any sort by the Adivasis warranting the police to exercise any force upon them, much less kill them.
“Madkami and Podiami were adivasi farmers of Balakati who were, along with Kawasi, part of a group of 22 adivasis, all of them belonging to the Koya tribe, from three villages of Korukonda block — Balakati, Tumasapalli and Nemelguda (Mariwada panchayat). They set out into the forest on February 14 in search of wild game, a custom that is traditionally undertaken twice or thrice a year by the Koyas. Only those who are adept at tracking and trapping wild animals in the forest go out on these trips. The group ventured quite far from their area into the Puttakota reserve forest in AP since game there is aplenty and they expected to bring back home some good catch.”
According to HRF, at about noon on February 21, Madkami, Podiami, Kawasi and Mukka Madkami, a fourth tribal, set out for the hunt while the other 18 were preparing food. “About two hours later, they were resting in a fairly open area with traditional bows and arrows and 2 country-made weapons when there was a burst of gunfire which felled Madkami and Podiami killing them instantly. A bullet hit Kawasi on his left upper arm and lodged itself inside while another one went through the upper portion of his right arm. A terrified Mukka Madkami, who was lucky to escape any injuries, fled. He returned to his village Tumasapalli five days later. Tragically, he died on the night of March 30 of a snake-bite while asleep in his house,” said HRF.
HRF said the injured Kawasi fled to Puttakota village where the residents helped him lie down in the village church. “He was semi-conscious and unable to eat anything only sipping some water an old woman gave him. The police came looking the next morning and took him away with them and along with the bodies of Madkami and Podiami shifted them to Narsipatnam. After a post-mortem was done and information sent to Balakati, the police handed over the bodies to relatives of the deceased who brought them back and cremated them on March 25. The police also gave Rs 10,000 each to the two families. After preliminary treatment, Kawasi was taken to Visakhapatnam to a place he calls the ‘police medical centre at Kailasagiri’. He was operated upon and the bullet removed from his left hand. After convalescing, he was sent home by the police on March 16 after being given Rs 5000,” said the human rights body.
In conclusion, HRF demanded that the Greyhounds personnel as well as police officials concerned be charged under IPC 302 and other relevant penal provisions and the investigation into this case handed over to the CBI. It also sought a compensation of Rs 10 lakh each to the families of the deceased and and Rs 5 lakh for Kawasi.
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