A 13-year-old Somaru Pottam was allegedly stabbed to death by security forces engaged in anti-Naxalite operations in Bastar region of Chhattisgarh.
Father of the Adivasi boy, Kumma Pottam, has filed a petition in the Chhattisgarh High Court seeking justice.
The boy was tied to a tree while he was being interrogated by a group of 4-5 police personnel who repeatedly stabbed him with their bayonets, eyewitnesses said.
Since the boy was buried, instead of cremating him as is the custom, in order to preserve evidence, the high court on Friday ordered exhumation of the body in presence of the commissioner of Bastar and the petitioners. It also directed the commissioner to accompany the body to the hospital for autopsy.
Jagdalpur Legal Aid Group is representing father in the legal battle.
Superintendent of Police in Bijapur district, claimed in the court that on the day of the boy’s killing, his forces had conducted a “successful operation” in the jungles of Metapal and Gongla and killed an “unidentified armed Naxalite in uniform” following a “fierce gunbattle”. Given that no other killing was reported from this region on 16 December, it stands to reason that the SP was referring to the slain boy as a Naxal.
Refuting the allegations of the SP, petitioners contended that the boy was unarmed and dressed in “ordinary village clothes”. Also, the eyewitnesses have stated that he was murdered in cold blood by the security forces after torturing him brutally.
The slain boy’s father “demands an independent, high-powered Special Investigation Team to inquire into this encounter which would be monitored by this Hon’ble Court as well as a detailed postmortem that can reveal the right age of the deceased child as well as other details about his death,” the petition pleads.
The child was returning after collecting Chhapra Chhapra – red ant colonies, harvested for culinary and medicinal properties – when he was captured by the security forces, eyewitness say.
The boy’s father Kumma and his cousin Sannu Pottam were also caught by security forces but eventually let off. According to reports, a few women had also been “dragged” to the spot by the security forces “as captives”. The witnesses even identified some of the alleged murderers as surrendered Maoists working for the police.
According to villagers, the boy was undressed in public after being killed, changed into a Naxalite uniform and photographed. The “captives” were threatened by the security personnel of dire consequences if they told anyone about the murder.
The body was taken by the police to Bijapur District Hospital, from where Kumma retrieved it with the help of other villagers.