Addl SP says action will be taken if complaints are true
Pune: Family members of a youth killed in the Naxal-affected Gadchiroli district last month have alleged that the police are going the Chhattisgarh police way - killing innocent tribals and terming them Naxalites in the guise of abolishing Naxalism from the area.
According to family members of 21-year-old Ramkumar Khese, his killing by C-60 Commandos of Gadchiroli police was not an encounter but murder. The police declared him Naxalite a day after his death.
R Raja, Additional SP of Gadchiroli, reacted strongly to these allegations and said, "We do not do fake encounters. In this case, if this boy turns out to be innocent, I will take strict action against those responsible."
The brutality of the killing was such, that Khese, who had gone hunting in the Gatta range forest of Gadchiroli, not only had two bullets pumped in his chest and leg, but his face was smashed repeatedly by a stone.
Premlal Minj, 22, a friend of the deceased who went along with him in the jungle, narrowly escaped death on the afternoon of February 5 with the help of a tribal cop.
“Rajkumar and I went to the forest, managed to hunt a bird and decided to return. While returning, some 3 km away from our village, we found a group of policemen. They stopped us and took us in different directions. I told them that we had gone hunting and were returning to our village,” Minj said.
Later, a tribal cop asked Minj to wear a police T-shirt and handed him a black Gamucha (scarf). The cops informed him that they are going to have an encounter with Naxals in some time and asked him to hide in a bush.
“He asked me to run at the sound of the first fireshot, I even asked him whether he will shoot if I started running, to which he said he is not going to do anything like that,” added Minj.
Minj reportedly escaped and instead of going to Koindvarshi, went to a relative’s house in Rekal Metta village. He reached his village a day later on February 6, and informed about the incident to the villagers.
Meanwhile, when the two young men didn’t return on February 5, their family members and other villagers went to the Gatta police station to register a missing persons' complaint but were told to search for him instead.
On February 6, villagers found the bird hunted by the duo, a bag belonging to Ramkumar and a pool of blood near the area.
On February 7, Ramkumar's family members and 3-4 villagers were taken to Gadchiroli police headquarters where they found his body - with bullets and his face smashed beyond recognition. According to sources, after killing Ramkumar, he was taken to Gadchiroli in a helicopter.
Supari Khese says his son suffered injustice
“The cops have killed my boy. They smashed his face even after pumping bullets into his body. We identified him from his clothes. At Gatta police station, we were told that he is alive and is in Gadchiroli but after reaching there, we found his body. This is an injustice. We were quiet for a long time out of fear but now I am going to approach the court to get justice for my dead son," said Supari Khese, Ramkumar's father.
On February 15, the police called Khese to Hedri police chowki and asked for his thumbprint on a blank paper on which they later wrote Ramkumar was an active Naxalite since last three years and was killed in a police encounter after he refused to surrender.
“I am not a literate person. A local boy who was there with me informed me that of what they had written. When the boy objected, they asked him to leave the chowki. On March 1, they again came to our village to get my thumbprint on a paper but this time I denied,” said Khese.
Villagers living in constant fear
- Ramkumar Khese's killing has terrorised the tribals of his village, Koindwarshi, as well as the other villages in Ettapalli taluka.
- Villagers were so much struck with fear that even after three weeks of his death, they didn't complain about it. However, the family and villagers are now planning to approach the court.
- Sattu Hedu, the headman of Koindvarshi village, said, “Ramkumar was not a Naxalite. I know him since he was a child. The police just killed him without any reason. We are surely going to approach the court against this injustice.”