17 villagers killed by forces in Sarkeguda, not Maoists

RAIPUR: The report of the judicial commission on the murders of Sarkeguda in June 2012 has gone out to the media, and is condemning the security forces. The report says there is no evidence that the 17 people killed were Maoists, and has detected manipulation in the investigation after the murders.

A joint CRPF team and the Chhattisgarh police had shot dead 17 people in Sarkeguda on the night of June 28, 2012. The security forces said they had launched an operation based on contributions on the presence of Maoists in Sarkeguda There was a shooting in which the 17 died. However, the locals insisted that those killed were not Maoists but innocent villagers, who had gathered for a meeting in the village. Human rights activists said there were six minors among those killed.

It was one of the biggest controversies of the Raman Singh regime and both the state government and the security forces had defended the police action. Under increasing pressure from opposition groups and parties, including Congress, the BJP government had to order a judicial investigation. According to reports, a member's judicial commission, headed by Judge V K Agrawal, a retired judge of MP HC, presented his report to the state government last month.

The report does not use the words I find false, but it indicates that those killed were not rebellious. The panel has indicated that they killed closely, and that one of the victims was shot dead in the morning, several hours after the meeting. The villagers did not fire, but security forces could have fired in panic, the report says.

Judge Agrawal's report has indicated that the injuries suffered by six security personnel were due to cross-firing, possibly by bullets fired by the forces. Noting that there was clear manipulation in the investigation, the commission also doubted the villagers' claim that they had gathered for a meeting to discuss a festival