Congress raises issue of death of tribal boy in alleged encounter

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The article has been republished from The Indian Express, March 2, 2017.


Congress MLAs Mohan Markam, Deepak Baij and Santram Netam raised the issue through a calling-attention motion.

Congress on Wednesday staged a walk-out in Chhattisgarh Assembly alleging that a tribal boy with a speech and hearing impairment was killed by security forces in a fake encounter in Bijapur district of the state. Congress MLAs Mohan Markam, Deepak Baij and Santram Netam raised the issue through a calling-attention motion.

Somaru Potam, a 12-year-old boy with speech and hearing impairment, was shot dead by the security forces on the morning of December 16, 2016, the MLAs said.

Markam said that according to the boy’s father, Somaru and his three friends ran into the security forces while returning home. The security personnel caught Somaru, tied him to a tree and shot him.

When some local women arrived there, the security personnel dressed the dead body in a Naxal uniform to brand him as a rebel, the MLA alleged.

Home Minister Ramsewak Paikra however denied this.

A team of district police and CRPF had launched a search operation when it came under fire from Naxals in Metapal forests, and after the rebels fled, body of an unidentified youth was found on the spot, he said.

Somaru Potam, the deceased, was not 12 years old, the minister claimed.

The High Court ordered another autopsy of the body after Somaru’s parents moved the court, while Bijapur collector also ordered a magisterial probe. The matter was now pending before the High Court, said the minister.

Paikra said there was no “anarchy” in the state as the opposition alleged, and in fact the security forces had taken “a strong action against Naxals”. Markam asked the minister to disclose the actual age of the boy and details of cases registered against him.

Netam also asked which Naxal `dalam’ the boy was from.

Paikra said Somaru’s age, as per his ration card issued in 2013, was 16, so he must have been 20 years old now. No criminal case was registered against him but he was a member of a Naxal militia, said the minister.

It was not known if he suffered from speech and hearing impairment, the minister added.

Congress MLAs asked how was he branded a Naxal if there was no case against him, and whether the government would pay compensation to his relatives.

Paikra said further action would be taken when the report of magisterial inquiry comes.

Leader of Opposition T S Singhdeo said the ration card can not establish age. If the encounter was proved to be fake, would the government give any financial aid to the family, the Congress leader asked.

The minister maintained that government was waiting for the inquiry report.

Not satisfied, Congress members staged a walk-out.


Picture: Representational

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Editorial Team of Adivasi Resurgence.

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