BHUBANESWAR: Four people including a local Congress leader Sarat Buruda have been arrested and 19 others detained by the Malkangiri police for blocking the National Highway 326 near Kotameta village in protest against the killing of two men by security personnel last week. The protesters said the two, identified by the police as suspected Maoists, were killed in what they alleged was a “fake encounter”.
The police crackdown comes ahead of the November 18 bandh called by Maoist leaders of the Malkangiri-Koraput border division who released an audio tape in which they insisted that the two men killed by the police on Friday were not their cadre.
Sarat Buruda, a local tribal leader linked to the Congress, led Sunday’s protest in Mathili block of Malkangiri district. He alleged that one of the two persons killed was a 41-year-old man Dhana Kamara who worked as a porter for cannabis traders and the second Jay Kumar Nag of Nabarangpur district.
“Dhana Kamara used to work as a porter for cannabis traders as he could not get any work. He used to earn money by transporting cannabis from one place to another. He has 5 children,” Buruda said, demanding a ₹30 lakh compensation for his family.
On Friday, the Odisha Police said two suspected Maoists were killed in a gunfight with the state’s Special Operations Group when the security personnel retaliated to firing by a group of people in the forests of Atalguda, Malipadar and Badlipahad villages.
Police insist that the group of 10-15 people fired at them and they only fired in retaliation. Police also claimed to have found 3 country-made guns, tiffin bombs, detonators, Maoist uniforms and 10 packets of cannabis near the bodies.
Police officers said the two deceased could be militia members who work for Maoist cadres. “We have recovered guns and some explosive substances from the Maoist camp. As Boipariguda is a known corridor for the cannabis trade, it is possible that the two militia members went to carry cannabis packages for Maoists. If they were ordinary porters, why did they go to the Maoist camp at night,” said a senior police officer of Koraput district who asked not to be named.