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They were not among the elite encounter cops whose joint team killed 28 Maoists in Malkangiri’s forests but, as policemen, they played a crucial role in taking the case towards its logical conclusion. A few hours after the bodies had been flown in by helicopter and wheeled into the district police headquarters, around half a dozen gramrakhis, low-ranked officials in Chitrakonda and Malkangiri police stations whose job includes chronicling births and deaths in remote villages for a monthly allowance of Rs 1,250, set about working under the hot sun Tuesday.
Once the postmortems were done, the gramrakhis removed the bullet-ridden, tattered clothes from the bodies. They laid out each piece of stained cloth, jackets and sneakers, medicines and bars of soap, as well as bags, on the ground to dry out under the sun. Wearing a mask over his face and gloves on his hands, gramrakhi D Seshagiri took clothes of male and female Maoists out of a polythene bag and spread them around. “The stench is unbearable, but someone has to do it,” said Seshagiri, as other gramrakhis helped him. After four hours, he neatly packed each item into a polythene packet, marking each packet with a number.
Senior police officials said the blood-soaked clothes were dried to prevent them from stinking as these will be used as exhibits in court. The Malkangiri police have lodged a case against unnamed persons under IPC sections 120, 120(b), 121, 121(A) and 307, besides sections 25 and 26 of the Arms Act and The UAP Act . An additional SP-ranked officer will investigate the case.
The dried clothes as well as guns and bullets recovered will be sent to the state forensic science laboratory in Bhubaneswar. There the blood on the clothes will be matches with samples taken from the deceased Maoists. “The reports will help the police during prosecution ,” said Malkangiri subdivisional police officer Rahul P R.