Indian tribals dubbed Maoists and shot dead: Gov’t panel report

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Raipur, India – Rights activists in Indian state of Chhattisgarh have called for action against security forces after a judicial probe established that the killing of tribals in 2012 was staged and that victims were unarmed civilians.

In June 2012, security forces killed 17 tribals, including seven children, in Sarkeguda village of Bijapur district accusing them of being Maoists.

More than 1,000 people have been killed in so-called encounters but tribals allege many of them are fake.

The families of those killed in the fake encounter (extrajudicial killing) now demand justice.

Shanta Madkam, 52, from Sarkeguda village wants that the culprits should be hanged. Her two sons – Nagesh, 16, and Suresh, 12 – were among those killed when security forces encircled villagers gathered for the Beej Pondum festival and opened fire.

“Around 10 o’clock, when the villagers were sitting in an open field, indiscriminate firing started. Nobody understood anything. There were bullets from all around,” she recalled the horror of that night.

“When the firing stopped, the armed forces started beating people with guns and other weapons. I was desperately searching for my sons calling their names. But their voices never came.”

Kamala Kaka’s three relatives, including minor nephew, were also killed in the incident. The 29-year-old also called on the government to take action against the culprits.

“We have fought a long battle to prove our family is innocent. But our experience is that such reports are suppressed. Until the action is taken against the culprits in this case, this report has no meaning for us,” Kamla told Al Jazeera.

Maoist stronghold

Chhattisgarh is rich in mineral resources and renewed mining activity has displaced thousands of tribals. The state has emerged as the stronghold of the Maoists, locally known as Naxals, in recent decades after mining was initiated.

The government has deployed tens of thousands of troops to root out the five-decade-old armed rebellion in Chhattisgarh. More than 4,000 people have been killed in the state since 2001.

The tribals or adivasis have been caught in the middle of a conflict that has pitted the Maoists against government forces.

Security forces have been accused of committing mass sexual and rights abuses, and extrajudicial killings of adivasis. Human rights activists and journalists have been targeted for reporting the abuse and unlawful killings.

Maoists have also been accused of killing and torturing villagers after accusing them of being police informers.

source : aljazeera

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