Ganesh Prabhu

People give varied accounts of ‘encounter’

Lack of basic amenities add to villagers’ woes

Naxalites talk to them about MNCs, freedom struggle

Megur (Chikmagalur District): Lack of basic amenities, fear of eviction from the Kudremukh National Park area and economic hardships are the root cause for the anguish among people in Menasinahadya and Megur villages. Wodeyar Math, where five persons were killed in an “encounter” between the police and “naxalites” on July 10, is in Megur. The village situated deep in the forests of the Western Ghats can be reached only after a seven-kilometre trek along a “kacha” road.

People here are giving varied accounts of the “encounter.” Some village residents, who did not want to be named, told The Hindu that the police had barged into the house of Rame Gowda and fired indiscriminately. One person said that the encounter was sparked by a gunshot fired by Gowtham when the police had come on a search to Rame Gowda’s house. Another resident said that policemen had fired from a height at Rame Gowda’s house.

Yet another resident alleged that people had been facing harassment by the police who suspected them to be supporting naxalites.

Certain political organisations had created an impression that people who were associated with organisations such as Kudremukh Rashtriya Udyana Virodhi Samiti and Adivasi Girijana Sanghtane were naxal sympathisers.

T. Devendra, a member of Athikodgi Gram Panchayat, said that the a major problem faced by people of both villages was to get foodgrains under the public distribution system.

The nearest ration shop was about 5 km away and foodgrains were distributed only twice a month. Only 115 of the 250 houses in the area had power connection, and there were many farmers who had not received title deeds for their land, he said.

Naxalites had been active in parts of Chikamagalur, Shimoga, Udupi and Dakshina Kannada districts, he said.

Residents said that naxalites tell them about multi-national companies, globalisation, special economic zones and freedom struggle. They said that after naxalites had arrived on the scene, Forest Department officials had stopped harassing them.

Probe sought

Meanwhile, president of the Kudremukh Rashtriya Udyana Virodhi Okoota Kalkuli Vittal Hegde said on Wednesday that the Government should give an assurance that no one would be evicted from the Kudremukh National Park area and order a judicial probe into the “encounter.”

More In: KARNATAKA | NATIONAL