Bastar Encounter Report 'Leak': BJP Moves Privilege Notice Against Bhupesh Baghel

A judicial commission had probed an alleged encounter in 2012 where 17 people were killed and mentioned in its report that those killed were not proven to be Maoists.

Raipur: The opposition BJP on Monday moved a breach of privilege notice against Chhattisgarh chief minister Bhupesh Baghel over the alleged “leak” of a report of a judicial commission that probed an alleged encounter in 2012 in south Bastar region wherein 17 people were killed.

The alleged encounter took place on the intervening night of June 28-29, 2012 between Sarkeguda (Bijapur district) and Silger and Chimlipenta villages (neighbouring Sukma district).

Soon after Baghel tabled the judicial probe report in the state Assembly, senior BJP MLA and former chief minister Raman Singh said the findings of the panel were already “leaked” in the media.

“How can such an important report be leaked outside while the House was in session? Members of this House should have been informed about the report and it should have been tabled in the house. Instead, we are getting to know about it from newspapers,” he said.

Singh and other BJP members claimed the report was submitted to the state government a month ago.

Also read: Bastar Fake Encounter Inquiry Report Vindicates Villagers, But Sets No Path for Amendments

Accusing the chief minister of ignoring the House, Singh said, “This amounts to a breach of privilege of members and contempt of the Assembly.”

He then moved a breach of privilege notice against Baghel and secretary of the General Administration Department and demanded a discussion over it.

Supporting him on the issue, other BJP members, led by Leader of the Opposition Dharamlal Kaushik also demanded a discussion on the breach of privilege notice.

However, state Congress chief Mohan Markam demanded a discussion on the findings of the report that indicted security forces for unilaterally firing on villagers.

When Congress MLA Satyanarayan Sharma, who was on the Chair, proceeded with the further listed business, the BJP members rose to oppose it and raised anti-government slogans.

Despite Sharma assuring that the matter was under consideration of the Speaker, the opposition continued with the protest. Amid the ruckus, Sharma suspended the proceedings for five minutes. When the House resumed, Sharma said the matter was under consideration.

The report of the one-member judicial commission headed by Justice V.K. Agrawal, a retired judge of the Madhya Pradesh High Court, went viral on social media here on Sunday.

A team of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and Chhattisgarh Police allegedly gunned down 17 people, including seven minors, at Sarkeguda village in Bijapur on the intervening night of June 28-29, 2012.

The security forces then claimed that they had an exchange of fire with Maoists during their operation based on inputs about the presence of ultras in the area.

The incident had sparked a row following which the then BJP government in the state ordered order a judicial inquiry into it.

Also read: Chhattisgarh: How Bastar Became ‘BJP Mukt’

The report, tabled in House, concluded that “the security forces opened fire unilaterally on members (villagers) of the meeting from close quarters, killing and injuring many of them. There was no firing by members of the meeting”.

“This firing probably resulted out of panic of some security personnel when they were confronted with an unexpected meeting of villagers so late in the night. Injuries to six security personnel occurred due to firing by fellow troopers,” the report said.

The security forces further went on to assault the villagers after that, and also killed one person in his house the next morning, it added.

The report also pointed out that the police investigation into the incident was “manipulated and dishonest”, and there was no evidence to show that any of the deceased or injured villagers was a Naxalite.

Even though the commission does not agree with the villagers’ version that the meeting was being called for a festival, it concluded that there was no satisfactory evidence that Naxalites were present in the meeting.

Persons who assembled for the meeting or those killed or injured, at least some of them admittedly had criminal antecedents, it said.