Kalyansinghpur: Claiming that the police have killed a Dangaria Kandh tribal youth in cold blood and sought to pass it off as an encounter with the Maoists in Rayagada district on February 27, family members of the youth, backed by the Niyamgiri Suraksha Manch, on Wednesday demanded the return of his body with adequate compensation and stern action against the policemen involved in the fake encounter.
Police had claimed that during a combing operation in the forests of Niyamgiri area of Kalyansinghpur block on February 27, a Rayagada police team, led by the SP K Siva Subramani, was fired upon by a group of armed Maoists.
In the exchange of fire that followed, a tribal youth was killed. Later, the SP, in a press briefing, had informed that the deceased was a Maoist.
Talking to OTV on Wednesday, Drika Kadraka of Dangamati village, said he and his brother Mondo Kadraka had gone to collect salapa (juice of salapa tree used as liquor by tribals) to hill near their village early on February 27 morning.
“While we were on the way, a team of armed police came to us. Seeing them, I ran away from the area. But my brother could not run. The police later took him away and after some time, I heard gunshots. Hiding in the forest, I saw the policemen returning from the area with a dead body and some books with them. Later, I ran to my village and informed the villagers, who went to the policemen and asked them to show the body, but they refused to do so. I was in search of my brother since February 27 and finally came to know about his death after seeing his photo in the newspapers today. Then I realised that the body the policemen were carrying with them after the combing operation, was of my brother who was killed by the police,” he said with tears rolling down.
"The police has killed my brother in cold blood and later told the media that he was a Maoist," he said.
“I will file a case against the police and demand the body of my brother so that I can cremate him in my village,” Drika said. He further said his family will demand the arrest of the policemen who killed his brother.
“Apart from filing a case, we will gherao the police station and bring back the body of my brother to the village for cremation,” he added.
Another tribal of Dangamati village, Pramod Kadraka, said the police, after killing Mondo, has branded him as a Maoist of Chitrakonda area of Malkangiri district.
“He was an innocent Dangaria youth. He is survived by his father, two brothers and a sister. His mother had passed away last year,” Pramod said.
Narrating the incident, Dambaru Sikaka, a friend of Mondo, said he had gone to the forest to collect salapa and found Mondo, who had also come to collect salapa. “After collecting salapa, he went after me. I was some distance away when I heard him shouting for help. As I rushed towards him, I saw some CRPF personnel had caught him. At this, I ran away from the area. I don’t know what happened to him.”
Following the incident, tribals from nearby villages, led by the members of Niyamgiri Suraksha Manch, had a meeting on Tuesday.
“We strongly condemn the killing of the tribal youth, who was innocent. He had come to the forest to collect wood and salapa. But the police, without interrogating him, shot him dead. We will file a case today and demand immediate arrest of the SP and the policemen who have killed the tribal. We will also demand a compensation of Rs 50 lakh to his family. If the district administration fails to fulfill our demands, we will stage a road blockade and relent only after getting assurance from the district administration,” Lado Sikaka, president of the Manch told the media today.