Chhattisgarh: Allegations cloud alleged suicide of surrendered woman ‘Maoist’
Dantewada SP rubbished the allegations saying the deceased surrendered in front of the media and her interrogation report and statements of other Maoists showed clearly that she was working as a CNM member.
Tribal activist Soni Sori and a group of villagers in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada claimed that the 20-year old girl, who allegedly died by suicide on Tuesday a few days after her purported surrender, was not a Maoist and was forced to surrender, raising questions over the police’s claim in the matter. The police, however, dismissed the allegations as a campaign to discredit the special surrender drive launched in the Maoist-infested district.
Sori further alleged that the sarpanch and others from the girl’s village said there were no ligature marks on Kawasi’s neck, suggesting they doubted the police's version that she died by hanging.
“Kumari Jogi, a Maoist, was nabbed by the police from the village along with one another innocent woman. The duo were brought to the district headquarters and after interrogation, police forced them to surrender. Police claimed that the deceased was a member of CNM, which is not true… Forceful surrender took place due to which she was not happy,” said Soni Sori.
On Tuesday, Dantewada police claimed Kawasi was a Maoist cadre, who surrendered with five others on February 19 and died by suicide a few days later on February 23. She was a resident of Gudse village under Katekalyan police station in the district. As per the police, Kawasi was a member of Chetna Natya Mandli (CNM) - a cultural wing of the Maoists and had approached police on February 18 along with a senior woman Maoist cadre, Kumari Jogi (36), a member of Katekalyan area committee of the banned group, expressing their willingness to surrender.
Sori further claimed that on Tuesday, village sarpanch and others came to meet Kawasi but the police did not let them.
“The villagers came on Tuesday to meet the woman since they came to know that she was not happy. The police told them that interrogation was going on but she died by suicide. Some people, who saw the body on Tuesday, claimed there was no mark on her neck… We believe that someone killed her. A probe should be ordered,” Sori continued.
Dantewada superintendent of police (SP) Abhishek Pallava said the deceased surrendered in front of the media and her interrogation report as well as the statement of Jogi along with others she worked with clearly mentions that she was working as a CNM member for the past six months.
“When villagers came to meet her on February 21, she clearly said she did not want to go back to her village. She wanted to work with the police along with Jogi,” Pallava said, adding, as per the surrender policy, whoever accepts working as a Maoist during the interrogation, can surrender.
As far as allegation of murder was concerned, a detailed post-mortem was being done by a team of doctors including a forensic expert and it was videographed, he said.
“Statements of surrendered cadres and the police personnel present lead to the conclusion of suicide. There is no motive for murder in the case. A magisterial inquiry has already been ordered by the collector of Dantewada. This campaign is being done on the behest of the Maoists to defame the ‘Lon Varatu’ campaign. As per initial probe, it seems the Maoists were holding meetings in Katekalyan area, forcing families and public representatives to go to Dantewada and bring surrendered cadres back to their fold,” said the SP.
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Soni, however, questioned the Lone Varatu campaign and alleged fake and forceful surrenders were taking place under the campaign.
“The tribals of Dantewada are in fear because of the Lone Varratu because of forced surrenders. This should be stopped,” Soni alleged.
“We don’t need forced surrenders since 316 Maoists have laid down arms including 82 who had rewards on their heads. All surrendered cadres are presented before the media in a transparent manner. Surrender and rehabilitation is a much better option than being jailed for years together,” the SP said, responding to the allegations.
Lon Varratu in local Gondi language means Return Home. Maoists in about 50 hypersensitive villages are being encouraged by Dantewada administration to surrender under this programme, police claimed.