Palembang. A child was shot dead and at least three others were injured by gunfire on Friday night in a brawl between local villagers and police stemming from a land dispute.
According to activist Hadi Jatmiko of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi), 12-year-old Angga bin Darmawan was playing PlayStation when he heard a commotion outside his home in Ogan Ilir district’s Limbang Jaya village. The child went out to see what was happening and was struck by a stray bullet. The other victims who suffered gunshot wounds and are in critical condition are Rusman, Yarman, Farida and Man, the activist said.
South Sumatra Police spokesman Adj. Sr. Comr. R Djarod P confirmed that there were victims of the brawl, though he put the tally at one dead and three injured.
“We will sanction our members if they are guilty for the incident,” Djarod said, adding that he would form a team to investigate it.
However, Djarod insisted police had followed procedure in handling the 15,000-hectare land conflict between state-owned plantation company Perkebunan Nusantara VII and locals who feel they were not adequately compensated when the company took over the land in 1982.
According to Djarod, local residents tried to stop police officers who were investigating a report that the company had lost 127 tons of fertilizer. He said villagers threw stones at a police car and attacked with sharp weapons.
“We need to make it clear that the police officers secured it [the conflict] according to procedure and they are well trained,” he said. “They have the ability to take action according to the procedure.”
Walhi’s executive director for South Sumatra, Anwar Sadar, had earlier warned police not to be aggressive in handling the conflict.
The police, he said, had raided locals’ homes as well as summoned some farmers as witnesses and suspects. Anwar argued that it had created a climate of fear among locals and warned that they might fight back.
“If there is big clash that takes the lives of victims, who will take the blame?” he asked.