The Chhattisgarh high court has ordered that the body of the 13-year-old boy, who was killed by security forces in an alleged encounter and branded as a Maoist in insurgency-hit Bijapur district, should be exhumed and a post mortem examination conducted again.
On December 16, Bijapur police had said a joint team of the district force had killed an “unidentified and armed Maoist in uniform” in a “successful operation” in the jungles of Metapal and Gongla under Gangaloor police station, following a fierce gun battle. The body was later identified to be that of Somaru Pottam from Metapal village.
His family members disputed the police’s version and said Pottam, who was unarmed and dressed in ordinary village clothes, was killed in cold blood by the security forces after being brutally tortured by them.
A petition demanding an independent inquiry into the matter was filed by the boy’s family in the Bilaspur high court earlier this month.
After hearing the petition, the HC on Friday ordered a re-postmortem within three days, saying it should be conducted at Jagdalpur’s Maharani Hospital under the supervision of the Bastar divisional commissioner.
“The petition is demanding an independent inquiry into the matter but since the body was buried a week ago and the court is on vacation from Saturday, therefore the justice has ordered a re-postmortem on Friday. The body will be exhumed and brought to Jagadalpur for re-postmortem for evidence in the presence of deceased family,” Shalini Gera, the family’s lawyer, told Hindustan Times.
According to the petition, Pottam was coming back to the village on the morning of December 16 after spending the night on the threshing ground with another youth when they stopped to gather some chhapra (red ant colonies that are considered to have culinary and medicinal properties) from a Mahua tree.
While they were gathering the Chhapra, security forces suddenly emerged from the nearby shrubbery and tried to capture them. Fearing for their lives, the other youth managed to run away but Pottam, who is hard of hearing and suffers from skin ailments on his lower body, could not run fast enough and was captured.
The security forces then tied him to a tree trunk, while a group of 4-5 jawans interrogated and tortured him by stabbing him with bayonets attached to their rifles.
“The child Somaru was interrogated for approximately an hour during which he was unable to answer many questions being hard of hearing. At the end of this interrogation, and in full view of the villagers present there, above-named Teera Sannu, Mangal and Manish drew their rifles and shot at the child Somaru from a distance of less than 5 feet, killing him instantly,” the petition said.
“The body of the deceased was then untied from the tree, undressed and dressed with a fresh uniform, consisting of a black pant and a black shirt. A 12-bore gun was placed next to the body, a photograph was taken,” it added.
The next day, the family members and other villagers carried the body of the child back to the Gangaloor police station to demand an impartial inquiry into his death and an independent post-mortem examination.
However, they received no response from the police.