The article has been republished from The Indian Express, February 17, 2017.
Image : Nearly 500 villagers walked 30 km to reach Kirandul to stage a protest outside a police station.
Raipur : Two persons, one of them a minor, were gunned down in a fake encounter in Kirandul in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district last month, villagers have alleged. Police have, however, maintained that Bhima Kadti and his 14-year-old niece Sukhmati were Maoists with cases against them. On Wednesday night, nearly 500 villagers walked from Gompur to Kirandul, 30 km away, and staged a protest outside a police station, demanding that an FIR be filed against the personnel concerned. The villagers also said that even 16 days after the encounter, they are yet to conduct last rites of the bodies, in the hope that another post-mortem will be done. According to the police version, Kadti and Sukhmati were killed in an encounter in forests along Dantewada- Bijapur border on January 29 and their bodies recovered after the gunfight.
The villagers, however, have rejected allegations that the two were Maoists. They have maintained that the duo went to the bazaar in Kirandul on January 28 to buy supplies for Kadti’s newborn child. They have alleged that the two were picked up and later killed. They also fear Sukhmati was sexually assaulted. They have told reporters that the bodies were found in a mutilated condition. Bastar DIG P Sundar Raj said, “The allegations of a fake encounter and mutilation of bodies are not true. An FIR has been lodged in the case.”
On Wednesday, nearly 500 people led by AAP leader and activist Soni Sori walked to Kirandul and staged a demonstration. On Thursday, Soni and about a 100 women from the village reached Dantewada district headquarters and met the SP and the district collector over the issue. Collector Saurabh Kumar confirmed that a group led by Sori and a separate delegation led by local Congress MLA Devti Karma met him and the SP. “They wanted an order for a judicial enquiry, copies and videography of the post-mortem and registration of a cross FIR. We told them that a collector cannot institute a judicial enquiry and that a magisterial probe has already been ordered,” Kumar said. The collector also said that they had requested the villagers to conduct last rites of the bodies.
Sori, however, said the villagers would deliberate on the legal options and then take a call on cremating the bodies. Meanwhile, opposition parties Chhattisgarh Janata Congress, Congress and AAP have alleged that such incidents are part of a continuous trend under the Raman Singh government and said they would launch protests if no action is taken.
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