Bastar division bandh against the alleged fake encounter had mixed effect

The Uncut

Jagdalpur/Kondagaon. In Chhattisgarh, an organization of tribal groups called Sarva Adivasi Samaj (SAS) called for a ‘Bastar division bandh’ on Tuesday to protest against the alleged fake encounter in Bijapur district, which had an impact in some parts. On May 10, the police claimed that it had killed 12 Naxalites in a forest near Pidia village in Gangalur police station area of ​​​​Bijapur in an encounter during an anti-Naxal operation.

Local villagers and family members of the deceased have accused the police of staging a fake encounter and said that those killed were not Maoists. The police and the state government have rejected this allegation. Due to the bandh called today in protest against this incident, business establishments remained closed till noon in some cities of the division including Jagdalpur, while its impact was minimal at other places. Police officials said that the Bastar bandh remained peaceful and no untoward incident was reported from any part of the region. The tribal-dominated Bastar division of South Chhattisgarh includes seven districts Kanker, Kondagaon, Narayanpur, Bastar, Bijapur, Dantewada and Sukma.

Banga Ram Sodhi, president of the Kondagaon district unit of the Sarva Adivasi Samaj, said, “The bandh was called against the alleged killing of 12 people in police firing in Pidia village. We are demanding a judicial inquiry into the incident. If our demand is not met, the protest will be intensified to get justice for the deceased.” Prakash Thakur, president of the Bastar region of the Samaj, said, “People’s enthusiasm for the bandh was good as all sections of society, especially businessmen, supported it.” The bandh was supported by the ‘Bastar Chamber of Commerce and Industries’, Jagdalpur, due to which business establishments and shops in Jagdalpur city remained completely closed till 2 pm.

Similar conditions were seen in the headquarters of some other districts of the division like Bijapur, Narayanpur and Kondagaon. However, the bandh did not have much effect in the development block headquarters. Essential services like schools and hospitals, medical stores and ambulances were kept out of the bandh. Transport service in the area also remained unaffected. The main opposition party Congress has also demanded a judicial inquiry under the supervision of a High Court judge into the Pidia encounter. Congress had formed an inquiry team headed by its former MLA Santram Netam to investigate the encounter.

The Congress had said that the investigation team had found that two of the 12 people killed were active as Maoist ‘Sangham’ members while the others were not Maoists. Responding to the Congress’ allegations, Deputy Chief Minister Vijay Sharma had said that the government was committed to eliminating the Naxalites and cases were registered against those killed in the Pedia encounter, many of which were registered during the previous Congress rule.

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