Exactly one year after the CRPF mowed down 19 villagers who had gathered to celebrate the traditional seed festival in their village in Bijapur district, the act has been repeated: the same festival, the same district, the same class of unfortunate villagers, and the same set of killers. In an 'encounter' that villagers in Chhattisgarh allege to be fake, security forces killed 8 villagers near Edasmeta village in Bijapur district on Friday night. Three of those killed were minors. The Chattisgarh government has ordered for a probe by a commission headed by Justice VK Agrawal, which is probing the encounter with Maoists at Sarkeguda in Bijpaur district on June 28-29,2012.

In 2012, the CRPF had claimed that those killed were Maoists who had ambushed a CRPF party – a claim backed and pushed aggressively by the then Home Minister P. Chidambaram. Only when independent fact-finding reports, including one by the Chhattisgarh State Congress, established that ordinary villagers including women and children had been killed, was the bluff of the ‘encounter’ called. Mounting public pressure had forced the Raman Singh government to order a judicial probe to be headed by a judge of the Bilaspur High Court. The fate of that judicial enquiry remains secret. Just as the Justice T.P. Sharma enquiry set up the previous year, in 2011, to examine into the torching of 300 houses and sexual assault on three women in Sukma district, has never been made public.

There is a continuing impunity afforded to the CRPF and police forces in Chhattisgarh – indeed in the entire tribal belt where struggles for land and livelihood, against large corporations are being waged – to kill, maim, sexually assault, imprison and implicate Adivasis in false cases. It seems unlikely that in this culture of brazen impunity, a judicial probe, ordered yet again by Raman Singh, will be more than a farce.

Manisha Sethi, Ahmed Sohaib, Sanghamitra Misra, Adil Mehdi, Tanweer Fazal, Farah Farooqi, Azra Razaack, M.S. Bhatt, M.G. Shahnawaz, Manoj Jena, Ambarien Alqadr, Nabanipa Bhattacharya and Mona Das for JTSA

Released by Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Association
20th May 2013.