At least three villagers were killed in Chhattisgarh’s Sukma district after Naxalites attacked a CRPF camp on Monday, leading to a shootout, said police. Senior police officers including IG Bastar Sundar Raj and DIG CRPF Komal Singh are on their way to the spot.
According to police, the villagers had been protesting against the Mokur Camp in Tarrem on the Sukma-Bijapur border for the last three days. However, they had gone back on Sunday night only to return the next day.
“They had gone back last night after protesting for two days but on Monday they came back. The state police tried to control the law and order situation," a senior officer at the CRPF headquarters told News18.
Clashes erupted between the Maoists and the police at the camp, and several casualties have been reported during the shootout. Several Naxalites have also been killed in retaliatory firing, said police. Some locals have been accusing the police of heavy-handedness and misidentifying people as Maoists, according to reports.
The protest by the villagers was hijacked by the Naxals leading to the clash, said police. “The villagers were kept at the forefront but Naxals fired at the policemen. Some protesters were killed in the retaliatory firing by the police," the officer said.
The District Reserve Guard (DRG) and the state police are currently handling the law and order situation in the area.
The Maoist movement dates back to 1967 when armed peasants revolted in Naxalbari and later the “red" cadres of the CPI (Maoist) led the agitation claiming legitimate socio-economic rights for tribal and locals. Security personnel have been fighting bloody battles with the guerrillas around the Bastar region of Chhattisgarh that comprises remote districts like Sukma, Bijapur, Kondagaon, Kanker, Narayanpur, Bijapur, Dantewada and Jagdalpur.
Ever since the security camp had been established in Mokur, Naxals were allegedly misleading locals and forcing them to protest as they were threatened by the increasing presence of government forces in the stronghold of the guerrillas. The camp will have personnel from the CRPF, STF and DRG. The district administration was in talks with the villagers and they had gone back on Sunday. They came back on Monday afternoon in huge numbers. As per available information, cadres of Jarunda Naxal committee and other Naxal formations were present at the protest site and suddenly firing began towards the camp, said IG Bastar Sundar Raj.
Three male dead bodies were recovered during the searches by the police. The process of identification of the deceased is on. Search parties are also scanning the area, he added.
Last month, 22 CRPF and state police personnel were killed in an encounter with Naxals at the same camp. Besides those killed, 31 other jawans had sustained injuries in the encounter. Security forces had launched an operation along the Sukma-Bijapur border, where an intense face-off resulted in the deaths of the jawans.