Police Shoot Dead 3 Adivasi Farmers At Kannavaram, Try To Pass Them Off As Maoists

A two-member fact-finding team of the Human Rights Forum (HRF) consisting of HRF State secretary VS Krishna and HRF Vizag district member Ch Suryanarayana on Wednesday enquired into the Dec. 5, 2007 killing of three Adivasis at Kannavaram village of Budharalla panchayat in Koyyuru mandal in the Agency region of Visakhapatnam district. The team visited the villages of Nallabilli and Kannavaram and elicited facts of the case. It spoke with Adivasis in the area as well as family members and relatives of the deceased. The following is a brief report of its findings:

The police version that an encounter took place near Kannavaram village between the police and Maoists on December 5 in which three members of the Maoist’ Galikonda armed squad by name Gopal, Shankar and Krishna were killed and arms and ammunition recovered, is a complete and blatant falsehood. All three deceased are in fact not Maoists but Adivasi farmers by name Marri Nageswara Rao, Musidi Bangarayya and Mamidi Gopala Rao. While Nageswara Rao (aged about 25) was a resident of Goddumamidi, Bangarayya and Gopala Rao (both 19 yrs) were residents of Nallaballi village. Both these villages are not too far away from Kannavaram where the killings took place.

All three were part of a group of 25-30 Adivasi villagers of Nallabilli and Kannavaram who had left on the morning of December 5 to scare away wild animals like wild boar from laying waste to their fields. The Adivasis are raising beans, red gram and chilli which are ready for harvesting. It is common practise for groups of farmers to go up to their fields and create a scare in order to prevent these wild animals from destroying their crop. The team of Adivasis from Nallabilli and Goddumamidi thus went about this job till about 4 pm when they came to a stream so as to quench their thirst. The stream is on the outskirts of Kannavaram abutting paddy fields.

All of a sudden, special police personnel reached the area and began firing at the Adivasis from three directions. According to eyewitness accounts, the firing went on for about 15 to 20 minutes. Nageswara Rao, Bangarayya and Gopala Rao died instantly in the hail of gunfire. The other Adivasis managed to run helter-skelter and escape. The police then dragged the three bodies some distance away from the village to a nearby hill called Edupulmmakonda where they stayed the night and shifted the bodies the next day via Gudem Kotha  Veedhi to Narsipatnam for post-mortem.

The police not only killed these three young men but also badly abused and threatened Adivasis, including women, of Kannavaram village who were in the vicinity when the shooting took place. They even got hold of two farmers of the village and said they would also be shot dead, then dressed in olive green uniforms and it would be made to look like an encounter in which naxalites had died. The villagers are in a state of fear following the killings and the subsequent high-handedness of the police. Some of them said they would not be able to live in the village anymore because of these threats and were seriously contemplating moving out of the area to a safer place close to the main road.

The HRF is of the opinion that there was absolutely no exchange of fire on December 5 near Kannavaram. The three Adivasis died due to unilateral and indiscriminate firing resorted to without any prior warning by the special party police. We take strong exception to senior police officials of the district trying to pass off this brutal slaying of Adivasi civilians as a case of encounter in which three armed Maoists died. The police fired upon the gathering of Adivasis at about 4.15 pm from a distance of about half a furlong. In other words, the firing took place in broad daylight when the Adivasis who were quenching their thirst at the stream could easily be recognised as civilians.  Yet, the police went ahead and fired upon them without any warning whatsoever.

In light of the above the HRF demands that:

  1. The police personnel who opened fire upon and killed three Adivasi farmers on December 5 at Kannavaram must be booked under IPC 302 relating to murder and other relevant provisions of the penal code and criminally prosecuted. The criminal investigation must be handed over to an agency independent of the local police
  2. The police must henceforth desist from threatening Adivasis of Budharalla panchayat.

VS Krishna
HRF State secretary


Related Posts

Scroll to Top