Eight people shot dead by security forces in 2013 in Chhattisgarh’s Bijapur district were unarmed Adivasis and not Maoists, a judicial inquiry report has found, The Indian Express reported on Friday.
The incident occurred in Bijapur’s Edesmetta village in May 2013. On the day, the residents of the village had gathered to celebrate an annual festival when 1,000 security officers arrived at the site.
The Commando Battalion for Resolute Action, also known as the COBRA, team had allegedly opened fire, leaving eight people dead, according to the Hindustan Times. Four of the eight were minors, The Indian Express reported.
COBRA is a unit of the Central Reserve Police Force.
The team had alleged that those who had gathered for the festival had fired at the security forces first, and their firing was in retaliation, according to The Indian Express.
But the report submitted by retired Madhya Pradesh High Court judge VK Agarwal to the Chhattisgarh Cabinet on Wednesday said that there had been no threat to lives of the members of the security team.
The report said that there had been no cross-firing in Edesmetta village.
“There was no strong intelligence behind the operation,” the report said. “None of the gathered people had weapons, nor were they members of the Maoist organisation.”
The report described the incident as a mistake, according to The Indian Express. It also said that “wrong assumption and nervous reaction” could be the possible reason for the firing.
The report added: “Security forces were not equipped with enough devices for self-defence, there was shortage of intelligence, which is why in self-defence and in panic, they fired.”
The retired judge observed in the report that the incident could have been averted if security forces had better intelligence inputs and self-defence equipment, according to The Indian Express.
The Central Bureau of Investigation is also conducting an inquiry into the incident.
In July 2019, the Central Bureau of Investigation had filed a case against unknown persons under charges of murder, criminal conspiracy and unlawful assembly, the Hindustan Times reported.