After the Chhattisgarh high court’s order to carry-out a fresh post mortem in the alleged fake encounter of a young tribal girl, Madkam Hidme by police in Sukma district of Chhattisgarh, tribal right campaigners fighting the case are hopeful that the forensic report will expose the “concocted version” of events presented by the police, but not everyone is convinced if the truth will be revealed.
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader and tribal right activist Soni Sori and lawyer Nihal Singh Rathore, on 17 June, had filed a petition in the court seeking an SIT probe, a judicial inquiry in the case after the news of Hidme’s death triggered uproar among the villagers, who termed the encounter as fake. The petition also demanded a compensation of Rs 20 lakh to the bereaved family of Madkam Hidme.
Talking to Naradanews, Nihal Singh Rathore the counsel in Hidme case said: “The postmortem report could turn out to be crucial in this case. We are very hopeful that it will expose the lies presented by the police.”
He added: “The court has directed that the body be exhumed in the presence of family members and that a postmortem then be conducted by a team of three doctors including the head of medicine of Jagdalpur Medical College. The whole process will also be videographer as per the courts orders.”
On June 13, Madkam Hidme of Gompad village was killed in an encounter carried out by a joint team of Special Task Force (STF) of police and District Reserve Guard (DRG) in a forest near the village. Police claimed Hidme was an active maoist member of Kistaram area platoon number 8. But tribal right activists and villagers contested the police’s claim, saying Hidme was picked-up from her house by security forces and gang raped before being killed in a fake encounter.
Soon after the encounter, a photograph of showing Hidme in a neat and loosely fitted uniform went viral on social media, raising doubts in the authenticity of the encounter. Hidme was allegedly shot 20 times before being dressed up in Maoist uniform.
Soon after the news of Hidme encounter came-out, Aam Aadmi Party leader and activist Soni Sori attempted to visit the victim’s village but was reportedly stopped by police from entering Gompad village. In protest, Sori sat on a hunger strike alleging foul play in Hidme’s encounter.
“Police atrocities are rampant in Bastar. The system put in place here is killing the democratic and constitutional right of the tribal population under the pretext of war against Maoists,” said Sori. “All sections of the society should come together to organise a mass protest against the atrocities carried by police against tribals,” she added.
Sori alleged that she still hasn’t been allowed to visit the village. “Police with the help of its local militia group headed by a BJP leader have turned the people against each other.”
Allegations of mass sexual violence by security forces in Chhattisgarh, and particularly in the Bastar range are not new.
Himanshu Kumar, a human right activists based in Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh while talking to Naradanews said: “The case of Madkam Hidme is not at all new in Bastar. There have been number of other such cases here (Bastar) where the security forces have carried out atrocities against the tribals with complete impunity and gotten away with it with the help of state patronage.”
Meanwhile, Rathore along with the parents of Hidme today also visited the office of district collector demanding the high court’s order be carried out in letter and spirit. The postmortem report will be submitted in the court on 27th June.