Other States

Supreme Court absolves forces of Dantewada killings

The Supreme Court prima facie found that the allegations of “massacre” made against the security forces were based on “false information”. File

The Supreme Court prima facie found that the allegations of “massacre” made against the security forces were based on “false information”. File | Photo Credit: The Hindu

The Supreme Court on Thursday turned the tables on activist Himanshu Kumar who had accused the Chhattisgarh Police, state-sponsored vigilantes and paramilitary forces of “massacring” tribal people in three villages of Dantewada during the anti-Naxal operations in 2009.

The court said the “alleged massacre was at the end of the Naxalites (Maoists)”. Investigations had already been conducted into the incidents. Chargesheets had been filed for offences, including murder, dacoity, etc. There was not an “iota of material” against the forces.

“The alleged massacre was at the end of the Naxalites (Maoists). The materials collected in the form of chargesheets substantiate the case put up by the respondents (the Centre and the State of Chhattisgarh) that the villagers were attacked and killed by the Naxalites. There is not an iota of material figuring in the investigation on the basis of which even a finger can be pointed towards the members of the police force,” a Bench of Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and J.B. Pardiwala held in a 94-page judgment.

The court prima facie found that the allegations of “massacre” made against the security forces were based on “false information”.

It left it open for the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) or/and the Chhattisgarh Police to start a criminal investigation.

The judgment seems to have boomeranged on the petitioners, who had wanted the CBI to probe the “extra-judicial killings”. Instead, now, they may be left to face a Central agency investigation. Mr. Kumar was further ordered to pay “exemplary costs” of ₹5 lakh in the next four weeks or face recovery action.

“We leave it to the State of Chhattisgarh/CBI to take appropriate steps in accordance with law …We clarify that it shall not be limited only to the offence under Section 211 (bringing false charges of the IPC). A case of criminal conspiracy or any other offence under the IPC may also surface,” Justice Pardiwala, who authored the judgment, directed.

The court refrained from expressing any final opinions on the action ahead. “We leave it to the better discretion of the State of Chhattisgarh/CBI to act accordingly keeping in mind the seriousness of the entire issue,” Justice Pardiwala observed.

The judgment recounted the State’s arguments that false allegations were levelled against the police and the paramilitary forces with a mala fide intention to “portray the dreaded Left Wing Extremists (Naxals), who were waging an armed rebellion against the security forces of the country and threatening the sovereignty and integrity of the country, as innocent tribal victims being massacred by the security forces.”

It said the narrative of “massacre” had been created to achieve the “immediate cessation of the advancement of the security forces against armed Left Wing Extremists.” The allegations were made to lower the morale of the security agencies by portraying them as “demons and national villains, i.e. slayers of innocent tribal people.”

The court recounted how Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, for the Centre, had even presented Mr. Kumar as the “mastermind” of this petition.


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Printable version | Jul 15, 2022 7:28:16 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/plea-seeking-probe-into-killing-of-villagers-during-anti-naxal-operation-junked-by-sc/article65638326.ece