Kandhamal Old Christian couple’s killing draws( Orissa Human Rights commission (OHRC) ire against police

BHUBANESWAR: Even as the Odisha Police received severe flak for Gumudumaha police firing in July last year, Odisha Human Rights Commission (OHRC) on Tuesday rapped the former over the killing of an old Christian couple during a reportedly anti-Naxal operation under Kotagada police limits of Kandhamal in 2015.
OHRC Acting Chairperson Justice BK Mishra directed the Government to pay a compensation of Rs 10( One Million) lakh to kin of Dubeswar Nayak and his wife Bubhudi and sought compliance within two months.

On July 26, 2015, Dubeswar and Bubhudi, natives of Pangalpadar village within Kotagada police limits, had gone to the top of Trapa hill to talk with their son over mobile phone when they were hit by bullets and died. Later, it emerged that the Special Operation Group (SOG) had gone to the area for anti-Maoist operation and the couple allegedly came in the crossfire between the security forces and the Maoists.

Advocate Prabir Kumar Das had filed a petition with the Commission while human rights activist Biswapriya Kanungo filed a separate complaint representing the couple’s son Rahul Nayak. Both challenged the encounter theory of the security forces and stated that the two were killed in a fake encounter by SOG and Kandhamal Police deployed in Madaguda reserve forest.

While the Kandhamal administration had given Rs 20,000 towards funeral rites and Rs 2 lakh to the kin of the slain couple from the Red Cross Fund, the petitioners had sought compensation on par with the ex gratia provided to victims of Gumudumaha encounter where Rs 7 lakh each was given to kin of the five victims.

The OHRC observed that violation of human rights appears tell-tale in the facts and circumstances of the case as the two tribals died with no provocation from their side.

‘’Whether they fell to bullets of suspected Maoists or SOG jawans, the fact remains that two innocent tribals lost their lives by sustaining bullet injuries,’’ Justice Mishra observed and added, ‘’The State squarely failed to prevent violation of basic human rights of the tribal victims.’’

The Commission reiterated the inquiry report of RDC (South) which had observed that inaccessibility is the main reason for backwardness and emergence of Left Wing extremism in the area.

Stating that better access to development and social security programmes will go a long way in mitigating difficulties and migration of tribals, the OHRC said it would be useful to structure appropriate guidelines to restore faith of people in police. ‘’It is imperative that extra judicial killings are properly and independently investigated so that justice may be done,’’ Justice Mishra added.