Kandhamal deaths: NHRC seeks report from Centre, State

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Bhubaneswar: Taking suo motu cognisance of the death of five tribals in Kandhamal last Friday, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has sought a report on the incident from the Centre as well as the State government.

The commission has given two weeks’ time to submit the report.

“Under Section 19 of Protection of Human Rights Act (PHRA), we have sought reports from both the Centre and State on the incident,” NHRC secretary general SN Mohanty said.

Meanwhile, the chairman of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) PL Punia on Thursday visited Gumudumaha village and spoke to the family members and relatives of the victims. Condemning the incident, Punia said stern action must be taken against the wrongdoers.

“In cross-firing, cases of injuries are reported from both sides. But in this incident, there was firing only from one side, which means the security forces fired at the tribals indiscriminately causing their death. I will recommend certain measures to the State government, which must be taken to prevent such cases in future,” Punia told media persons.

He suggested that the State government register cases under the provision of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act in the incident.

He also said that the families of the victims should also be given “adequate compensation” as per the provisions of the POA.

The state government, he said, had informed him that the state government has already announced provision of housing for the victims’ families.

The government had also assured NCSC that the children of victims would be provided free educaton up to graduation level.

Punia said NCSC would keep a watch on the actions taken by the state government. “If required, senior officers like the chief secretary, home secretary and director general of police of Odisha will be called to meet the Commission.”

The visit of the NCSC chief came a day after the one by members of National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) under its chairman Rameshwar Oraon.

Expressing satisfaction over the measures taken by the state government immediately after the July 8 night incident, the NCST had come down heavily on the Special Operations Group (SOG) personnel who had opened fire on the innocent people.

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