Bijapur: Nearly two weeks after an anti-Naxal operation by the CRPF forces in the Basaguda village in Bastar region in Bijapur in Chhattisgarh killed 16 people, the central reserve force is facing allegations of killing innocents.
Basaguda village today looks haunted with fallen trees and messages nailed to them. It looks haunted by the June 29 encounter, in which 22-year-old Sariah lost his brother-in-law.
He recounts the horror of the encounter night, walking to the spot where he says villagers had gathered for a meeting to discuss preparations for a local "beenj festival".
He vehemently refutes the CRPF's claim that a few Naxals were present amongst them.
"There were no Naxals there... If there had been, wouldn't the police have recovered some evidence... Arms, ammunition, ID card... something... They were all village men," he says.
Blood stains, an eerie silence and anxious villagers are the basic reminders now at the village where the encounter took place.
Local resentment notwithstanding, the state, the CRPF and the Centre have vociferously defended the attacks.
While the Chhattisgarh Congress in its internal report said that teenagers were killed, the state police did admit that there may have been an oversight.
As the village gathers around to mourn the loss of 16 men and a young 12-year-old girl, in a small section, widows and young children are all that's left, their men having fallen to the bullets of the security forces.
Janaki now worries for her four children. With her husband among those dead, her anger and pain are palpable in the unshed tears.
"They called him a Naxal. Does a Naxal ever have a family? I couldn't even see his face after he was shot. With no other family, I don't know what will happen to these children," she says.
The IG of Bastar, however, insists that one has to look at the incident objectively.
"Regarding the involvement of the villagers, we have to look at it objectively. We have to remember the Naxals have declared a mobile warfare stage, where they've trained all villagers to resist security forces with arms."
Back at the village though, tribals say the security forces are only trying to cover up for an operation that went wrong. The verdict of a magisterial enquiry is now awaited.