3 Adivasis, Including Pregnant Woman Murdered By Greyhounds Police At Kotipalli

The Human Rights Forum (HRF) demands that Greyhounds police personnel concerned must be prosecuted for murdering three Adivasi civilians, including a pregnant woman, at Kotipalli village in Chitrakonda tehsil of Orissa.

A five-member HRF fact-finding team visited Kotipalli recently and elicited facts of the killings. At about 9 am on January 20, 2009 over 30 Greyhounds police went to Kotipalli village which is in Pamparametta panchayat of Kudumulugumma block in Malkangiri district. They picked up Golluri Sombu (45), his brother Golluri Budra (40) and Pangi Sadayi (a 20-year old woman who was three-months pregnant) from near their homes. All three were adivasi cultivators and residents of the village. They were beaten up badly there itself. Kotipalli is a small village of only 15 households and the other residents of the village could not offer any resistance to the armed Greyhounds policemen who outnumbered them.

Sadayi was tied to a tree by the police and beaten so badly that she lost consciousness. The police tied up the hands of Sombu and Budra and made them walk to the outskirts of the village. Sadayi, who had fainted and was bleeding from the nose, was carried there by the policemen. The Greyhounds men also beat up several other villagers, among them Killo Singari and Vanthala Bisi who were beaten badly. Sombu, Budra and Sadayi were then taken to a place farther away from the village and after more beating they were shot dead at about 11 am. In the meanwhile, Greyhounds men stood guard around the village, to ensure that the residents would not move out to protest.

Having caught and killed the three unarmed villagers inside Orissa, the Greyhounds of A.P police took away the dead bodies across the border and claimed that three Maoists had died in an ‘encounter’ in the forests of Pedabayalu in Visakhapatnam district of A.P. This falsehood was necessitated by the fact that the Greyhounds are part of the Andhra Pradesh police and they cannot go raiding or combing the forests of Orissa at their will and pleasure. But as we find that the Greyhounds are doing so regularly, it is necessary to place on record our demand that both the State Governments have the responsibility to ensure that this is put an end to. This is not just a technical matter of territorial jurisdiction. It impinges upon the life and liberty of citizens.

Further, the killing committed by the Greyhounds in Kotipalli is triple murder and the perpetrators should be charged with the offence and prosecuted. We have been demanding that the A.P police reveal to the Orissa police the identity of the Greyhounds personnel who raided Kotipalli on 20/1/2009 and the latter should register the offence and prosecute them. Kotipalli was clearly an incident of deliberate and intentional killing of three unarmed Kondh Adivasis by the Greyhounds police. However, even though these murders were carried out in Orissa, the AP police stated that it is an ‘encounter’ that took place in Pedabayulu mandal of AP. Even going by this version, the 6/2/2009 judgement of the AP High Court should have applied. In other words, a case under IPC 302 should have been therefore registered against the Greyhounds police concerned at Pedabayulu police station in respect of these murders. The Pedabayulu police ought to have been given the names of the police personnel who were part of the Greyhounds team that went to Kotipalli on January 20 by the Greyhounds officials concerned.

We also emphasis that the investigation in the case must not be done by the Andhra Police. This is because the Visakhapatnam SP continued to maintain, in spite of the plain facts, that the three deceased were not unarmed Adivasi villagers but Maoist cadre. Therefore, there was no scope for justice being done if the AP police themselves investigated this case. Since the Malkangiri SP was also parroting the lies being put out by his counterpart in Visakhapatnam, it would not have been of any use to handover the case to them either.

We therefore demand that criminal investigation into the Kotipalli case be conducted by either the CBI or a criminal investigation team under the aegis of the National Human Rights Commission. Since all three deceased were ordinary, poor villagers and Kondh Adivasis (Sombu has six children and Budra three), a compensation of Rs 5 lakh each to the family members of the three killed was also asked. However, none of these demands have been met till date and only the mandatory magisterial enquiry has been conducted by the Chitrakonda revenue authorities. (Incidentally, the enquiry by Orissa Govt. functionaries itself nails the Visakhapatnam SP’s lie that the ‘encounter’ took place in Andhra Pradesh).

Lastly, we condemn the foisting of false cases and jailing of Sugunadham, office-bearer of AP Civil Liberties Committee. The Vizag district police have done this since he had tried to bring to light facts about the Kotipalli killings. The HRF demands that the false cases against him be dropped and he be released from prison.

K Balagopal
(HRF State general secretary)

VS Krishna
(HRF State secretary)


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