Compensation enhanced for Kandhamal ‘encounter’ victims

A protest against the killing in Bhubaneswar .file photoLINGARAJ PANDA  

The Odisha Human Rights Commission has directed the State government to enhance compensation for the next of kin of five villagers killed in firing by security forces in Gumudumaha village of Kandhamal district.

Six human rights activists had moved the OHRC alleging that five innocent villagers had fallen to indiscriminate firing by security forces and it was a fake encounter.

Twelve persons were returning to the village in an autorickshaw after collecting their MGNREGS wages around 8 p.m. on July 8, 2016 when they came under heavy fire.

The petitioners had demanded Rs. 25 lakh each for family members of the deceased and Rs. 10 lakh to each injured and pleaded for stringent action against the security personnel involved in the firing.

“Every citizen has a fundamental right to live and personal liberty guaranteed under the Constitution is to be protected. Violation of human rights appears telltale in the facts and circumstances of this case,” OHRC Acting Chairperson Justice B.K. Mishra said.

The OHRC observed that the poor tribals in the autorickshaw injured in the firing were left unattended by the paramilitary forces involved in combing operations.

“No immediate medical care and treatment was provided to the injured persons and there was inordinate delay. Had the persons, who sustained bullet injuries, been immediately rescued and shifted to the hospital, such a large number of casualties probably would not have occurred,” the commission observed.

The commission recommended that the State government pay Rs. 2 lakh in addition to the Rs. 7 lakh sanctioned to each of the next of kin of the deceased. It also directed that the injured persons should be paid Rs. 50,000 over and above the Rs. 50,000 which has been paid to them.

The rights panel directed the government to pay the enhanced amount within two months.