Under pressure from various quarters, including the continuing protests by locals, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel has constituted a committee of Congress MLAs from Bastar division to look into the 'encounter' in Silger on the Bijapur-Sukma border that killed three persons on May 17.
The chief minister's office said that the committee, to be headed by Bastar member of parliament (MP) Deepak Baij, “will talk to the locals and collect facts of the Silger issue”. Administrative officials will also accompany the panel members, the CM's office said in a tweet.
The committee includes Bastar MLA Lakheshwar Baghel, Keshkal MLA Santram Netam, Dantewada MLA Devti Karma, Kanker MLA Shishupal Sori, Antagarh MLA Anup Nag, Bijapur MLA Vikram Mandavi, Chitakot MLA Rajman Benjam and Narayanpur MLA Chandan Kashyap.
Three persons were killed on the spot on May 17 after police opened fire at a crowd protesting the setting up of a CRPF camp in Silger. While senior officers maintained that the police firing was in retaliation of an attack by armed cadres of Maoists who had infiltrated into the crowd of villagers, the locals alleged that the police fired at the protesting crowd of villagers to disperse it.
The issue has raged for the past two weeks with several civil society organisations and activists demanding a judicial probe and criminal case against responsible police officials.
Sources said that locals are quite enraged over the incident and there is also a big pressure on the local people's representatives to take up the issue. Several Congress MLAs and other people's representatives had put a demand to the chief minister to get a probe done into the matter. The Sukma district collector had already instituted a magisterial inquiry into the matter, but the locals are not said to be happy over this step.
Meanwhile, Maoists have called for a Chhattisgarh-Gadchiroli bandh on the issue, demanding removal of security forces' camps from Bastar and also to protest what they called 'genocide and severe physical assault' of local people on May 17.
The step of the state government to constitute a panel of people's representatives is being looked upon as a damage control exercise.