Encounter: OPDR cries foul

Ramkumar of OPDR addressing the media in Visakhapatnam on Sunday.— Photo: By Arrangement

Ramkumar of OPDR addressing the media in Visakhapatnam on Sunday.— Photo: By Arrangement  

The fact-finding team of the Organisation for the Protection of Democratic Rights (OPDR) that visited Ramgarh and its surrounding villages in the cut-off area of Andhra Odisha Border, where 30 Maoists were killed by the A.P. Greyhounds, termed the “exchange” of fire as a one-sided assault. Twenty-four Maoists were killed on October 24, four on October 25, and two on October 27.

Addressing the media here on Sunday, Mr. Ramkumar of the OPDR said the assault began at about 5 a.m. when the Maoists and villagers were preparing food.

“Had there been an exchange of fire, there would be bullet marks on trees on both the sides. But the bullet marks were seen only on the Maoists’ side. This indicates that the firing was one-sided. Even if the Maoists had weapons, they were not prepared,” he said. Mr. Ramkumar said a few Maoists were injured in the incident. They, however, were caught, tortured and killed in cold blood, he alleged.

One woman Maoist, who had gone to answer the call of nature, saw Bakuri Venkata Ramana alias Ganesh, secretary of the AOB Zonal Committee, receiving a bullet wound in his leg. He was caught alive by the Greyhounds. The woman somehow escaped, contacted us at a village and narrated the incident, said Mr. Ramkumar.

The family members of Ganesh told us that there were torture marks on his face and a gaping hole in his chest, which indicated that he was shot from a very close range, said P. Ramani of the Progressive Organisation for Women (POW), who was part of the fact-finding team.

Another woman Maoist Shanti was also injured in the leg and caught alive.

“Her family members said that there were wounds inflicted by a blade on her body. She was also caught, tortured and killed. There was a deliberate attempt by the police to destroy evidence,” alleged T. Easwar of the OPDR.

There were a number of burnt umbrellas at the encounter site, said I. Vijay Kumar of the OPDR. This indicated the presence of a few villagers. The Maoists were never known to carry umbrellas, he added.

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