BJP, Cong teams in Kandhamal to meet victims’ families

Bhubaneswar: A-three member team constituted by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah to probe the gruesome killing of five innocent villagers of Gumdumaha in Kandhamal district left for Phulbani, the district headquarters, soon after its arrival here this afternoon.

The team comprising party vice president Vinay Sahasrabuddhe and national secretaries Jyoti Dhurve and Ramvichar Netam – all of them MPs – is scheduled to meet family members of those who died in the firing and the injured tomorrow.

“We shall prepare a report after talking to the family members of the victims and others and submit it to the party President. We shall complete the task given to us by the in the next 3-4 days,” Sahasrabudhhe told media persons here before the team’s departure for Kandhamal.

Earlier in the day, Leader of Opposition Narasingha Mishra, along with some of his party legislators, left for Kandhamal to take stock of the situation.

“We will talk to the family members and relatives of the victims. Besides, we will also try to find out the reason behind the incident. An on the spot stock taking of the case will also be done to see if the incident could have been avoided,” Mishra stated.

On July 8, five persons, including two women and a child, were killed, and seven others injured in an incident the security forces have sought to pass off as a crossfire during an anti-Maoist operation in the district.

In a related development, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), taking suo motu cognisance of the death of the villagers of Gumudumaha, yesterday 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.

Chairman of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) PL Punia, who visited Gumudumaha village and spoke to the family members and relatives of the victims on Thursday, has rubbished the police claim of a crossfire.

“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 innocent villagers 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.

Condemning the incident, Punia said stern action must be taken against the wrongdoers.