Andhra Pradesh

HRF seeks prosecution of security personnel

Members of the HRF Coordination Committee interacting with villagers of Pedabayalu mandal in Visakhapatnam district on Wednesday.

Members of the HRF Coordination Committee interacting with villagers of Pedabayalu mandal in Visakhapatnam district on Wednesday.  

Encounter claim does not hold water, says 2-member team

The Human Rights Forum on Wednesday demanded that the Greyhounds and CRPF responsible for the alleged exchange of fire that led to the deaths of two Adivasi farmers on the night of March 15 near Buradamamidi village in Pedakodapalle panchayat of Pedabayulu mandal in Visakhapatnam district be prosecuted under IPC 302 and other relevant sections of the law.

A two-member HRF fact-finding team along with functionaries of several Adivasi organisations on Tuesday visited the area where the reported encounter took place.

Talking to The Hindu, V.S. Krishna, HRF’s Andhra Pradesh and Telangana State (AP&TS) Coordination Committee member, said: “We examined the spot where the two adivasis, Batti Bhushanam (52) and Sidaari Jamadhar (30), were shot dead, and spoke in detail with the two adivasis, Sidaari Rambabu and Koda Bonjubabu, who were lucky to survive the firing. We also interacted with the residents of Pedakodapalle, Buradamamidi, Mettaveedhi and Jayantikota villages who accompanied us to the spot.”

‘Official version a lie’

“We have no hesitation in stating that the official police version that two contingents of Greyhounds and CRPF personnel who were on combing operations had come under fire from Maoists of the Pedabayulu Area Committee, following which they were compelled to retaliate thereby resulting in the death of two Maoist squad members, is a brazen lie,” Mr. Krishna said.

Villagers reportedly confirmed to the HRF committee there was no exchange of fire as was being claimed by the security forces. “There was no exchange of fire that night. Only unprovoked, one-sided firing by the police that led to the death of the two adivasis,” Mr. Krishna said, adding that the firing was not preceded by any warning.

Giving a graphic description of the version of the survivors and villagers, Mr. Krishna said, “After dinner on March 15, Bhushanam and Bonjubabu (residents of Mettaveedhi, a hamlet of Pedakodapalle) and Jamadhar and Rambabu (first cousins and residents of the Pedakodapalle main village) set out on a hunt. This is a normal and fairly regular practice in adivasi society, particularly in the dry summer months. Bhushanam and Jamadhar were each carrying a country-made weapon and had torchlights fixed with a strap across their head while the other two were holding torches.

“All four were dressed in civil clothes. They were walking on a track in the fields belonging to residents of Buradamamidi when they were shot upon by the police from about a half a furlong away to their left. There was no forewarning whatsoever. Both Rambabu, who was walking in front, and Bonjubabu who was at the back, ran for their lives. Rambabu managed to crawl some distance and then ran along a rivulet away from the spot where they were fired upon. He was so terrified that he hid in the hills, on top of a mango tree, and only emerged at about 8 am near his village. Bonjubabu ran to his village Mettaveedhi and to the safety of his home,” Mr. Krishna said.

Bhushanam, a farmer and pensioner with three children, and Jamadhar, a farmer who was recently married, were not so lucky. Both died as a result of the firing which continued for several minutes, said Mr. Krishna.

‘Not the first time’

According to K. Sudha, HRF A.P. State General Secretary, this is not the first time that such killings have taken place.

Recalling a few past incidents, she said three adivasi youth named Marri Nageswara Rao, Mamidi Gopala Rao and Musidi Bangarayya were killed on December 3, 2007 near Kannavaram village of Budharalla panchayat in Koyyuru mandal.

Again on February 21, 2016, two adivasi farmers Ganga Madkami (40) and Ganga Podiami (33), residents of Balakati village in Korukonda block of Malkangiri district in Odisha, who were on a hunting expedition, were fired upon and killed by Greyhounds in the Puttakota forest area, also in Koyyuru mandal, she said.

Others who were part of the HRF team were Adivasi Reservation Parirakshana Porata Samiti convener Ramarao Dora, Akhila Bharata Girijan Udhyogula Sangam’s Visakha Rural district president K. Simhadri, Tribal Welfare Teachers’ Union’s state president Ch. Srinivas Padal, Girijan Students’ Union Visakha district vice-president B. Suman, Adivasi Hakkula Vedika convener J. Anand and Girijan Udhyogula Sangam general secretary S. Simhachalam.

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Printable version | May 31, 2020 7:33:26 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/hrf-seeks-prosecution-of-security-personnel/article26594232.ece

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