MAJHIPARA, SUKMA: The trail of horrors continues at Majhipara village, about 450 km from Chhattisgarh‘s capital, Raipur. On Monday, a team of CRPF and district policemen came to the village to investigate the abduction of the district collector and beat up several villagers, including women.

The police arrived when Ganga Kuram (25), a farmer, had just sat down to a frugal meal of rice. “They dragged me out of the house and hit me with a lathi,” he said.

Ganga and other men of the village fled their homes after Maoists abducted Sukma district collector Alex Paul Menon and killed two of his security guards.

After hiding in the forest, Ganga returned home on Monday hoping the worst was over. But he was wrong. “We are caught between them (Maoists) and the police,” said another old man who refused to give his name.

Like Ganga, he too listened to Menon. But, they remained tightlipped about what happened on Saturday. “We heard gunshots and ran away, I didn’t see anything else,” said Ganga.

Other villagers echoed him. “Yes, some men came with guns. They killed two guards. But, how will I know who they are or where they came from?” said a middle-aged villager. Fearing retaliation, they even refused to say which way the Maoists walked away with Menon.

Asked, Sukma SP Abhishek Shandilya said, “Yes, a police team went to the village to probe Saturday’s incident. I have not heard about police beating villagers. Nobody has complained to us.” But the villagers volunteered every detail about being beaten up by the police on Monday.

There were rumours that a Maoist cadre was killed during Saturday’s attack. “Later, it turned out to be untrue,” said the old man. The police team had come to cross-check the rumour.

Kuram Deva’s left arm was swollen after he and his neighbour, Kuram Irma, were beaten by cops. Markam Singhe was serving her husband, Kuram Khosa, the morning meal when the police team entered the village.

“They asked villagers to gather in one corner of the village. My husband had just eaten a morsel when the policemen dragged him out of our house. I ran after them asking where they were taking him. One cop struck him with a lathi and another pointed a gun at me,” said Singhe