Almost two months after two tribal men were killed in Visakhapatnam, the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) has launched an inquiry into the alleged police-involved shooting that lead to their deaths.
In a notice to the Andhra Pradesh Chief Secretary and the Director General of Police, the NCST has requested further “facts and information on the action taken on the allegation.”
The body noted that a response should be sent to the NCST within 30 days of receiving the letter, and that the Commission would exercise court action if a reply was not received within the stipulated period.
The Adivasi Reservation Parirakshana Porata Samithi (ARPPS) Convener Ramarao Dora and other activists had earlier reached out to the NCST, alleging that the police had "recklessly killed" two Adivasi men near Buradamamidi village, despite them having no connection to Maoists or any militant group.
ARPPS activists claim that the CRPF and the state police teams are responsible for the deaths. Activists have demanded that the state government take action against the two law enforcement bodies for their alleged involvement in the killings. They also stated that the investigation must be handed over to the CBI and that appropriate compensation should be offered to the families of the victims.
Police claimed that between March 15 night and early March 16 morning, an encounter between two Maoists and a combing party comprising state police and 198 CRPF battalion members, led to the Maoists' deaths. They were later identified as Batti Bhushan, 52, and Seedhari Jamadhar, 30.
Soon after, Adivasi rights groups hit back at police, claiming that the men were both locals and had no connection to the CPI Maoist party. They stated that the duo was on a hunt that night, along with two others who survived.
Though police claim they acted in self defense, activists noted that the men were killed in a one-sided firing, according to the ARPPS.
Speaking to TNM, Ramarao Dora said that the government should hand over the case to the CBI or the Special Investigation Team to conduct a transparent probe, after filing a case against the CRPF and state police forces.