Bhubaneswar : In a shocking incident, five innocent villagers, including two women, were killed when their auto rickshaw caught in an exchange of fire between SOG jawans and Maoists in Gumudamuha village in Kandhmal district today. Kandhamal District Superintendent of Police Pinak Mishra described the incident as most unfortunate and said the villagers were caught in the cross firing during an encounter between the SOG jawans and the Maoists inside the Malpanga forest near Kurtamgada under Parampanga panchayat in the district. The SP said based on some specific information, the security forces had launched an extensive combing operation in the area to flush out the Maoists hiding inside the forest. He said the villagers were killed when their auto rickshaw came in between the security forces and the Maoists. The SP said an inquiry would be made into the incident. Meanwhile, agitated villagers today resorted to road blockade on the state highway 224 near Parampanga protesting against the killing of five innocent villagers and demanding adequate compensation to the deceased family.
Mr Mishra said the police will try to reach the villagers and the victims family and assured that the police would provide all assistance to the deceased family members. He said the deceased included two men, as many female and a boy. BJP leader Sukant Panigrahi, however, demanded a judicial probe into the incident. He said a former sarpanch identified as Kubal Digal was killed in the cross firing. Mr Panigrahi said the incident occurred when the villagers were returning to their village in an auto rickshaw after drawing their MGNREGA dues from a Baliguda bank. The BJP leader said the auto rickshaw got struck near a nallah and when the villagers were coming out of it they were killed in police firing. Mr Panigrahi denied the police claim that the villagers were killed as they were caught in a cross firing. He said no combing operation by the security personnel was going on in the area and the police was saying this to find an escape route. The BJP leader demanded a judicial inquiry into the incident and Rs 20 lakh compensation to the next kin of the deceased.