Preliminary investigation into the gunning down of a 23-year-old youth by the Anti Naxal Force at Thanikodu checkpost in Chikmagalur district has revealed that he was shot at while trying to flee and not in the chest at point blank range as was suspected earlier.
Dismissing any foul play in the incident, sources said here that constable Naveen G Naik, a 2012 President’s gallantry medal winner for a naxal encounter, fired at them suspecting they were naxals.
According to the preliminary report submitted by the police to the Karnataka government, on April 19 around 3.30 am, three persons including Mohammed Kabeer were coming in a pickup truck transporting cattle.
The ANF team asked them to stop from a distance to check what exactly they were transporting. The vehicle suddenly stopped after making an attempt to turn back. Three occupants jumped from the truck and reportedly started running helter-skelter. Suspecting them to be naxals, ANF constable Naik first fired in the air. Even then the occupants continued running after which Naik shot down Kabeer while the rest ran away.
Naik, well trained in operation of AK 47 rifle, fired 10 rounds from his AK 47 of which three hit Kabeer. It seems that AK 47 was in semi automatic mode and there was a possibility of bullets being fired in a single trigger.
Probe found that of the three bullets which hit Kabeer, one was from back side of the arm and the other two from the back. As the two bullets which hit him in the back exited from the chest there was a hole in the chest. Sources said it was not close range fire as earlier alleged, but there was a certain distance between Naik and Kabeer.
As Thanikodu forest checkpost was twice attacked by naxals in 2006 and 2013, the ANF had special instructions to conduct routine patrol in the area and assist the forest guards who were manning it. On April 19, the ANF team patrolling the areas was headed by an inspector. Following a complaint filed by Umar Farooq,who was also in the truck with Kabeer, police arrested Naik. The CID is probing the case in detail, sources said.