Naxals or villagers?

  • 29/04/2008

Five people were killed in July 2007 when the police cracked down on "Naxals' in Menasinahadya village in Koppa taluka near Sringeri. People gave varied accounts of the "encounter'. Some villagers told Down To Earth that the police had barged into a villager's house and fired indiscriminately. Some said it was sparked by a gunshot fired on the police. But everyone believes the five who died were villagers, and one of them was a member of the Kudremukh Rashtriya Udhyana Virodhi Okkoota, a Sringeri-based organization campaigning against the national park status accorded to Kudremukh. "The government is targeting leaders of various organizations working for the welfare of the tribals. It isn't targeting Naxals,' says Kalkuli Vittal Hegde, president of the anti-national park outfit, which started in 1997 after villagers got eviction notice from the government. Hegde has often been blamed for supporting Naxal activities in the park in the guise of people's rights and campaigns against the national park. But Hegde clarifies that he has never supported violence and doesn't intend to do so, and that they do not need the support of either the Naxals or the police (see box: It's all eyewash). "Certain political organizations have created an impression that those against the park are Naxal sympathizers,' says Leo Saldana of Environment Support Group, an ngo in Bangalore.

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