Shah forms 3-member BJP team to probe Kandhamal killings

Bhubaneswar: Turning the heat on the BJD government over the killing of five innocent tribals at Krutamgada in Kandhamal district three days ago, the Opposition BJP on Tuesday constituted a three-member committee to probe the gruesome incident.

BJP president Amit Shah has asked party vice president Vinay Sahasrabuddhe and national secretaries Jyoti Dhurve and Ramvichar Netam to visit the spot to probe the incident and submit a report at the earliest. All three of them are Members of Parliament (MPs) while Dhurve and Netam are tribal leaders.

BJP sources said the committee is expected to visit the district in a couple of days.

Sensing an opportunity to target the Naveen Patnaik government and broaden its base in the tribal region, which has been in the news for violence earlier too, the saffron party has rejected the Odisha police’ claim that the tribals were killed in a crossfire involving Maoists and demanded a probe by a sitting High Court judge,

BJP general secretary and Odisha in-charge Arun Singh said, “Our MLAs had visited the place today and we had called for a bandh in Kandhamal yesterday. What has happened is an absolute failure of the government and the responsibility lies squarely with the chief minister as he also holds the charge of home ministry.”

“Five tribals, including two women and a child, were shot dead by cops when they were travelling in an auto. They were killed without any checking or identification. A serving High Court judge should be asked to conduct a judicial probe,” he said.

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

Meanwhile, National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) Chairman Rameshwar Oraon, along with Commission secretary Anil Agarwal and Director RK Dubey, left for Kandhamal to take a stock of the situation soon after his arrival here this afternoon.

“We will inquire into the circumstances that led to the death of the tribals. Could these circumstances have been avoided? What information the police had regarding the movement of ultras? Why the incident happened? The Commission will look into all these aspects,” Oraon said on arrival here.

The NCST team will also meet family members of the deceased. Oraon is scheduled to meet DGP KB Singh and Home secretary tomorrow.

The region has seen several cases of violence over the years, including murders of Swami Lakshmanananda Saraswati and his disciples in August 2008 followed by a month-long communal riot that left at least 38 dead, most of them Christians.