Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Paralakhemundi, Dec 11:
Four villagers of Bhaliaguda village in Gajapati district of Odisha, who had been branded as Maoists and arrested by the police, have been acquitted after two years by the Paralakhemundi Additional District Judge (ADJ) Court, Odisha due to lack of evidence.
The villagers, identified as Bulu Malik, Kalia Malik, Surendra Malik and Jalandhar Malik are from Bhaliaguda village under Mohana police station of Maoist infested Gajapati district. They had been arrested by the police following the infamous encounter that took place at Bhaliaguda village on November 14, 2012.
As per reports, the security forces had killed five innocent tribal and dalits of Kandhamal district and brought their dead bodies to Mohana Police Station of Gajapati district with the help of these four persons, who acted as mere labourers. Odisha police had even paid them Rs.1600/- as wages for their work. However, later these men were arrested and branded Maoists.
The men were later discovered by Ratan Das of ‘Odisha Sarvoday Samaj’, who was leading a fact finding team into the case.
“They had been detained illegally with hands and feet tied up with wires and were kept under tight security. When we tried to take snaps of the incident, we were threatened by security forces and our camera was snatched away by the cops,” said Das.
After returning from village, Das narrated the incident before the media, following which the police forwarded the victims to the court on false charges the next day on November 17, 2012. Their bail petitions were rejected re[peatedly before they were acquitted by the ADJ, Paralakhemundi on Monday.
“The acquittal proved that the Bhaliaguda encounter was fake. Family members of the deceased who were killed in the police encounter will get justice one day,” said Campaign Against Fabricated Cases (CAFC) convener Narendra Mohanty and advisor Biswapriya Kanungo.