Kandhamal killings: Forces didn’t follow SOP, says NCST chief

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Baliguda: Chairman of National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) Dr Rameswar Oraon today said the security personnel did not follow the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) during the anti-Maoist operation in Kandhamal district, which led to the tragic death of six innocent tribals.

“The security personnel must adhere to the SOP during an operation against the terrorist elements. I must say that there was no intelligence input that the Maoists were moving in a vehicle. Generally only civilians move in a vehicle. The security personnel had the information that the Maoists are moving on foot. If they had the information, then why did they open fire at the vehicle in which the tribals were moving? Action would be taken against the security personnel who had opened fire at them,” Oraon told media persons at Baliguda after meeting the families of the deceased with whom he interacted for about three hours.

“It is an unfortunate incident and everyone, including the district and the state administration, are accepting it. It should not have happened. Now the issue is what action should be taken and what should be done so that such unfortunate incident does not happen in future,” he pointed out.

Oraon, who arrived in Kandhamal district yesterday, said he will have a meeting in this connection with the Chief Secretary, Home Secretary and the DGP in Bhubaneswar in the evening where the Commission will urge them to find solutions and take necessary accordingly so that such incidents do not take place again.

To a question on whether the state government has gone against the Central guidelines by providing compensation of Rs 7 lakh to each family of the deceased instead of giving them Rs 7.5 lakh, he said “In this context, I should say that it is an atrocity on the tribals by the state government. In fact the compensation as per the Central guideline is Rs 8.5 lakh, which the state government has to give to the families of the victims. It is up to the state government to announce additional compensation amount.”

Replying to a question on the duration of the Judicial probe and the probe by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) as announced by the state government, Oraon said it does not matter who will investigate the case. “What I suggest is that the investigation has to be time-bound as defined by the Supreme Court. A reasonable time-bound inquiry should be completed within 90 days,” he observed.

Asked why his visit to Gumudumaha village was cancelled, Oraon said he was advised by the district administration not to visit the village as there is no road connectivity to this village and one has to walk about 12 km to reach the village. “Besides, since the area is Maoist infested, my visit has to the village was cancelled due to security reasons,” he added.

To another question on whether he will give any other suggestions to the state government besides the recent killing of the tribals by the security forces, Oraon said; “I will apprise the state government of the diversion of Tribal Sub Plan fund sanctioned by the Centre for the backward districts. I will also tell the government about the poor education system in this district where there are no teachers in some schools. There are no road communication, electricity and drinking water facilities for the interior villages. Apart from this, I will also tell the state government about the lack of basic amenities in some tribal villages in Kandhamal district though both the Central and state governments are committed to provide these amenities to the tribals of these villages on priority,” Oraon said.

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