Activists deny tribals were Naxalites

Express News Service

Kopargaon (Maharashtra), July 2: The Uttar Maharashtra Lokvikas Manch has decried attempts to blame the Puntamba incident in which two persons were killed and 37, including eight tribals, injured in the police firing last Monday on Naxalism. ''It's part of a police conspiracy,'' Manch leaders Saarang Pande, Mandar Vaidya and Pratibha Shinde said after visiting Puntamba and Shingave on Saturday.

According to an FIR, a mob had attacked a police outpost at Puntamba and also tried to immolate an assistant sub-inspector of police. The activists also contested Deputy Chief Minister Chhagan Bhujbal's claims that the police resorted to firing only after teargas and lathicharge failed to subdue the mob. The police fired at the morcha without resorting to lathicharge or lobbing teargas shells, the activists alleged.

Pradeep Dushing, who was killed in the firing, had no connection with the Naxalite organisations, they claimed, adding that the police was branding Dushing, P.A. John of Asha Kendra and the Adiwasi Bhoomi Hakka Parishad as Naxalites only to save their skin. The Manch said in its statement that police atrocities against Dalits, tribals and other oppressed sections of society was not a new phenomenon.

The police sources maintained that the minor girl whose alleged rape by a local political worker sparked off the violence has denied any sexual misconduct against her. Police also claim that the deceased Dushing had threatened ASI Mali when he visited the former's wasti to arrest him for encroaching upon MSFC lands.

According to a PTI report, the police insist that John, arrested along with his wife Reena, instigated tribals to attack the police station, damanding arrest of the minister for the alleged rape.

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Referred by: Mukandan CM
Published on: July 3, 2001
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