Chhattisgarh boy Sumreet Nareti, 13, will never read books or play cricket again, the two loves of his life. He is dead. Kavita Hidmo, 12, will never forget Sumreet. She saw him die.
Tribal boy Sumreet, a resident of Kodhai Khodra village of Kanker district in north Bastar, was killed after an improvised explosive device (IED) he had unsuspectingly picked up exploded on April 15.
Police said the IED was a sinister Maoist plant, possibly meant to target a Border Security Force (BSF) camp near the village in Antahgarh region.
Kavita, also a tribal, who was sitting a few metres away and watching Sumreet fiddle with a strange “box-like thing”, suffered a puncture wound on her left arm and other injuries on her legs in the blast and was admitted to the district hospital in Kanker.
“Woh khel raha tha uss dabbe waale cheez ke saath. Phir achanak ek bahut zor ki awaaz ayi aur main gir gayi. Main ro rahi thi aur maine dekha mere haath me khoon laga tha. Thodi der baad maine dekha Sumreet zameen pe gira hua tha buri halat mein. Hil nahin raha tha (He was playing with the box-like thing. Suddenly, there was a loud sound and I fell. I started crying and saw blood stain on my hand. A while later, I spotted Sumreet lying on the ground in a bad shape. He was not moving),” Kavita told HT.
Kavita, who suffered a puncture wound on her left arm in the blast and other injuries to her legs, underwent an operation on Wednesday.
Sumreet studied in Class 6 in the government school in his village, located about 70 km off Kanker district headquarters. “My brother was a good student. He loved books and cricket,” said Sumreet’s elder brother Amreet, 15. Sumreet’s last rites were performed on Monday.
“I don’t know where he got that IED. He thought it was something to play with. It was the last game my son played,” said Sumreet’s father Baisakhi, a farmer, turning away his head as he cried. His wife, Bisay, too broke down.
“Sumreet’s death has spooked Kodhai Khodra residents and children have stopped playing outside,” said a health worker.
Fear and silence have descended on the villagers, who are no stranger to brush with Maoists. The villagers know Maoists pass by the river running alongside.
Police have asked villagers across Antahgarh not to touch suspicious objects.
DM Awasthi, special director general of police (anti-Maoist operations), Chhattisgarh, said, “Maoists often plant explosives to target security forces. Even as we investigated the death of the child, a pressure bomb planted by Maoists at Tahakwada in south Bastar exploded on Tuesday, killing a man and injuring another.”
In January, two women and a minor girl were killed in a landmine explosion triggered by suspected Maoists in Narayanpur district.