Phulbani (Odisha): Six persons, including two women and a child were killed and five others injured in cross fire during an anti-Maoist operation in Odisha’s Kandhamal district prompting the state government to order a judicial probe into the incident. Police said the six were caught in an exchange of fire between security personnel and Maoists while they were travelling in an auto-rickshaw at Gumutmaha village in a dense forest area near Kuttamgarh under Tumudibandha police station jurisdiction last night. Five of those caught in the cross fire died on the spot, while another person succumbed to injuries later, Kandamal superintendent of police Pinak Mishra told reporters.
The condition of four others, who were shifted to MKCG Medical College and Hospital at Berhampur was stated to be serious, said a police official.
The SP said acting on information about Maoist movement in the area, CRPF, Special Operations Group and district voluntary force (DVF) personnel had set up an ambush but the auto-rickshaw carrying the villagers came in between. “It is unfortunate that the civilians were caught in the cross fire. Those killed included two women and a minor boy,” he said, adding the circumstances in which the incident took place were being probed.
Expressing deep concern over the incident, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik ordered a judicial inquiry into it. “The Chief Minister has also announced Rs 5 lakh exgratia for the family members of the each dead person,” a statement released by the chief minister’s office said. Meanwhile, irate local residents blocked Rayagada- Phulbani state highway protesting against the killing of innocent persons in the police-Maoist encounter.
Demanding a court-monitored probe by a special investigating team, the Campaign Against Fabricated Cases (CAFC), Odisha, blamed the police for the killing of people belonging to tribal and dalit communities in the incident. The organisation demanded suspension of the SP and police personnel responsible for the killings, FIR against them under Section 302 and Rs 50 lakh compensation to bereaved families.