Widows seek justice for ‘fake encounter’ deaths in Orissa


Bhubaneswar : The widows of two men killed in an alleged staged shootout last month in Orissa’s Bargarh district Thursday met the state’s Human Rights Commission chairman here, saying their husbands were falsely branded as Maoists.

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Madhav Singh Thakur and Ramesh Sahu were killed Dec 26 at the Gandhamardan Hill range in Bargarh district, about 500 km from here.

Police claimed the two were Maoists and were killed during a gunfight, but their widows said the men were innocent.

Geetanjali Thakur, 30, and Jagyeswani Sahu, 25, met Orissa Human Rights Commission Chairman R.K. Patra.

“We presented before him various facts that clearly establish how our husbands were innocent,” Geetanjali told IANS.

“The chairman told us that the commission has asked the concerned superintendent of police to submit a preliminary report within two weeks. The report has not come yet. The chairman assured us that he will look into the mater” she said.

Pradeep Purohit, a leader of a prominent anti-mining group who accompanied the widows, said Thakur was detained by police Nov 10 for protesting against Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik during the latter’s visit to the area.

Thakur had also helped the local police Dec 24 in connection with a case.

Ramesh Sahu was a businessman.

“None of them were hiding,” said Purohit, a prominent leader of the Gandhamardan Suraksha Yuva Parishad (GSYP).

GSYP has been spearheading a movement since over a decade in the region to prevent mining in the bauxite-rich Gandhamardan hills range.

“If they were Maoists, police should have arrested them. Both Madhav Singh Thakur and Ramesh Sahu were not only the members of GSYP but also the Bharatiya Janata Party,” Purohit told IANS.

“We want the immediate arrest of the police officers involved in the shootout and adequate compensation to the families” he said.