The panel shall consist of two government officials, a lecturer from a government college and two independent members.

The Dantewada Collector R. Prasanna has announced a probe into allegations that the district police and central paramilitary forces burnt homes, molested three women and killed at least three men in a five military operation in March.

On Wednesday, The Hindu and Rajasthan Patrika carried news reports in which eyewitnesses accused Chhattisgarh’s Koya commandos (an armed tribal police corps) and the Central Reserve Police Force of burning over 300 homes and granaries, sexually assaulting women and executing three men in the tribal villages of Timapuram, Morpalli and Tarmetla between March 11 and March 16.

The panel shall consist of two government officials, a lecturer from a government college and two independent members.

“We have set up a five member panel comprising Mr. Suresh Mahapatra, editor of local newspaper, Bastar Impact, Ms. Ratnabala Mohanty, a lecturer at Dantewada Post Graduate College, and the Head of a local NGO Pragati Prayas, Mr. Narendra along with the Tehsildar and Sub Divisional Magistrate of Knota block to inquire into the incident,” said Mr. Prasanna over the telephone.

Mr. Prasanna said that the panel had been asked to report their findings in the following fortnight and that compensation to violence-affected families would be paid by the end of the month.

Acting on media reports that security forces had burnt granaries, Mr. Prasanna said that the administration was also sending rice, pulses, edible oil, clothes and fuel to Tarmetla village.

In a telephone conversation, Chhattisgarh Director General of Police, Vishwa Ranjan ruled out instituting a parallel police inquiry into the incident. “My people on the ground do not agree [with the media reports],” said Mr. Ranjan.