A fact-finding team of human rights groups has confirmed that a Christian couple were murdered and accused of being Maoists.
According to a report from Barnabas Fund, Dhubaleswar and his wife, Bhubudi Nayak, had gone up to the top of a hill in Pangalpadar village, in the Kandhamal district of Odisha (formerly Orissa) state, on Sunday 26 July.
This was to make their weekly phone call to their children, who worked in Kerala state. However the call was interrupted and their son could hear shrieking and gunshots.
The couple had been accompanied by three other Christians, who had finished making their calls and were returning.
They met officers of the Central Reserve Police Force, India’s largest paramilitary, who were looking for Maoists. According to reports, the officers pointed guns at them and questioned them, but let them go. Not long after, the three returning to the village heard gunshots.
The villagers went to the police station demanding that they register a murder case and return the bodies, but police refused to co-operate. Hundreds of villagers returned to the police station in protest and eventually police handed over the bodies on the evening of 28 July.
Bhubudi’s hair had been cut to make her look like a Maoist, said Sushant Nayak, president of the Kandhamal Baptist Union. The bodies were also covered in mud.
‘This is a coldblooded murder’, said Narendra Mohanty, who was involved in the fact-finding report. ‘When the couple resisted [a] rape attempt by the security forces, they shot them dead’.