Family members of Manuram Nureti, an alleged Maoist who was killed in a police encounter in the Narayanpur district of Bastar, claim that he was innocent.
Police said that 26-year-old Nureti was gunned down in a firefight with security forces on the intervening nights of 23-24 January.
What Family Members Say
But his brother Renuram Nureti has denied any Maoist links. The deceased's brother himself is a surrendered Maoist who has been working in the Chhattisgarh Police’s District Reserve Guards (DRG) unit since 2014.
Talking to The Quint, Renuram Nureti said, “Naxali nahi hai, Naxal peedit hai… Bastar fighters ke liye form bhi bhara tha... (He is not a Naxal, he is a victim of Naxals. He had also filled up a form to join the Bastar Fighters)."
Bastar Fighters is a specialised division that was created by the state government to combat the left-wing extremism in Bastar.
“My brother wasn’t a Maoist… He had also applied for recruitment in the police force. I will ask my superiors as to why they are saying he is a Maoist.”Renuram Nureti
Manuram’s wife Manvati had similar allegations about the police's version of the events. She said that her husband was out hunting when he was gunned down.
"He was out hunting birds with a slingshot… He had gone out after dinner saying that he will be back in a while. But he never got back. He was caught and killed by the police. We do farming work. He wasn’t a Maoist, all of this is a lie."Manvati
The police have denied the family's claims saying that Manuram was killed in an encounter.
Narayanpur Superintendent of Police Girija Shankar Jaiswal said that two separate IED blasts had been triggered by Naxals recently in Bharanda police station limits. The police had also received inputs that extremist forces may be planning something around the Republic Day.
In view of these reports, a team of District Reserve Guard (DRG) had begun an area domination operation around Bharanda, Bhainsgaon, Ghotia, Uchchakot, and Temrugaon from late Sunday night, he said.
“Yesterday night the DRG was out on area domination. During the operation an encounter took place. The DRG took heavy fire and the force responded. Today morning we recovered a body from the place along with a muzzle loading gun.”Neeraj Chandrakar, Additional Superintendent of Police, Narayanpur
“As far as the family's allegations are concerned, they are also instructed by the Maoists to not accept their wards are Maoists. But their allegations are wrong. He was killed in a retaliatory action by the police,” Chandrakar added.
Allegation of Fake Encounters
The family's allegations around Nureti's death are not surprising given that Chhattisgarh's Maoist-infested Bastar has been in the news quite often over purported fake encounters and police operations.
Earlier in September 2021, a judicial probe was conducted into one such encounter from Edesmetta village of Bijapur where in the year 2013 eight people were gunned down and later labelled as Maoists. But the probe revealed that the deceased were, in fact, not Maoists.
The findings of yet another judicial probe into an encounter that happened in Sarkeguda, Bijapur in 2012, had also revealed that those killed in the encounter were not Naxals.