Locals block NH after 6 killed in Kandhamal ‘crossfire’

Kandhamal: Vehicular traffic on the Gopalpur-Raipur route was disrupted for hours today as locals blocked the NH-224 near Paramapanga in protest against indiscriminate firing by security personnel leading to the death of six civilians, including a 13-year-old boy and a 15-month-old girl child, and demanding removal of CRPF from the district.

A large number of villagers burnt tyres and sat on a dharna on the national highway.

According to the locals, 16 residents of Gumurumuha village had gone to Baliguda to collect their MGNREGA wages yesterday. While returning home, they came by an autorickshaw and reached Krutamgada at 6 pm. The wheels of the auto got stuck in the mud near a culvert following which the passengers tried to move the vehicle. In the process, considerable time elapsed and it was 8.45 pm when the security personnel were on a combing operation in the area.

Amit Kumar Lima, a local, alleged, “While trying to move the auto, the villagers were fired upon by the security personnel killing four persons and a girl child. Later another person succumbed to his injuries.”

Lima added, “We want the removal of CRPF personnel from the district. In the name of security, they are killing innocent people.”

Expressing similar views, Ranjit Kumar Lima, another local, said, “There are no Maoists in the district. We want withdrawal of the CRPF personnel from Kandhamal.”

The deceased have been identified as Pupura Diggal, Bhimbali Mallick, Kimiri Mallick, Mediali Mallick, Lutu Diggal and Gage Diggal, all of them residents of Gumurumuha village under Tumudibandha police limits.