3 Orissa tribals killed in police firing

http://www.timesofindia.com/today/18indi4.htm
By Rajaram Satapathy
The Times of India News Service

BHUBANESWAR: Three tribals were killed and many sustained bullet injuries when the police opened fire at Malikanch village in Orissa's Rayagada district on Saturday evening. One of the victims was a woman.

Maikanch is one of the villages opposing a proposed private alumina plant in the area.

The state government on Sunday ordered an administrative inquiry into the incident. Agriculture production commissioner Sanjeev Hota will conduct the probe, an official statement said.

The statement, however, was silent on the number of deaths, but said an ex-gratia payment of Rs 1 lakh would be paid to the families of the deceased persons. The government would bear the treatment cost of the injured persons, the statement added.

DGP S K Chatterji, while admitting the deaths, said that the police opened fire in a ``compelling situation''. Nineteen policemen were also injured in the village in a retaliatory attack by the tribals, he pointed out.

The firing was the a sequel to a clash between the villagers and supporters of ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) district president N.Bhaskar Rao the previous day.

Rao reportedly went there to persuade the villagers not to oppose the plant. The villagers however were not convinced. Heated exchanges and violent clashes ensued between the two sides in which some people were injured. Later in the afternoon, the tribals allegedly attacked and ransacked Rao's house near Kashipur.

The situation worsened on Saturday when a police party reached the village to arrest the accused persons, including members of a local NGO, Agragami. By then all the village men had fled to the nearby jungle. The women nevertheless protested the arrival of the police and reportedly threw stones at them.

They were soon joined by tribals from other areas, who attacked them with bows and arrows. The police fired 19 rounds, in ``self defence'', official sources here said.

Reports said the situation in the area continues to be tense with tribals from nearby villages thronging Maikanch. The tribals also refused to hand over the bodies to the police. One injured person however was shifted to the MKCG medical college and hospital at Berhampur for treatment.

The state government has deployed nine platoons of armed policemen in the area. Several senior police and district officials are also camping there, official sources said.


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