Abhishek Meena, Superintendent of Police (SP), had stated that 160 personnel conducted a search operation on the night of 31 July, after learning that Maoist leaders were holding recruitment meetings for the Jan militia.
The Jan militia are the support base for villages, under the Maoist Janatan Sarkar governance model. Functioning as village defence committees, they provide help in logistics but are, in general, not heavily armed. The security forces said they missed this recruitment meeting, but returned to the forest on 4 August and on the morning of 6 August they ‘chanced upon the Maoists’.
Villagers and eyewitnesses to the shooting told the fact-finding team an altogether different story. They said those villagers sheltering in the ladhi were quietly conversing among themselves. Some had gone for a wash when the security forces arrived and surrounded them.
Even though the villagers put their hands up to show they were unarmed, they were assaulted. First came beatings, then the firing.
Among the first to be killed was Soyam Chandra. His head was then bludgeoned with a shovel. He had shouted out aloud that he was the ward watch for the panchayat or village council, but it made no difference. His family members later produced his Aadhaar…