The Chhattisgarh High Court Tuesday directed that the body of Madkam Hidme, who was killed in an alleged fake encounter in Sukma’s Gompad village on June 13, be exhumed and a postmortem be conducted and videographed. Hidme’s family has alleged that she was picked up from her village, raped, and killed by personnel of the Chhattisgarh Police. The family further claimed that the body was buried “with salt and sand” so as to prevent further probe in the case.
The Chhattisgarh Police, however, has said that Hidme was a Naxal cadre, and member of the Kistaram Platoon Number 8, and was killed in an encounter in the forests near Gompad village. After allegations of a fake encounter and rape by the family, there was more controversy over separate fact-finding teams of AAP and Congress claiming that the police was barring them from going to the village, deep in Naxal affected zone, “on one pretext or the other.”
Later, AAP state convenor Sanket Thakur filed a PIL before the Chhattisgarh High Court asking for a judicial probe, pointing out that the a photograph of Hidme’s body after the encounter showed her in Naxal uniform that “is clean and ironed and shows no signs of an encounter”.
Thakur added that this raised doubts that Hidme was first killed, and then the uniform put on her body.
On Tuesday, a day after Hidme’s family members were asked by court to file affidavits before it, they were made complainants in the case, with the court directing that the body be exhumed.
“The court has directed that the body be exhumed in the presence of family members and that a postmortem then be conducted, with videography as well, by a team of three doctors including the head of medicine of Jagdalpur Medical College,” a lawyer in the case informed.
Later at a press conference in Raipur, AAP leaders Sanket Thakur, Nagesh Banchhor and Soni Sori welcomed the decision of the court and said that the “voice of the victim’s family” had been heard.
Hidme’s parents, Kosa Madkam and Madkam Lakshmi, also spoke to the media and said that their daughter, the eldest in the family, had been married eight days when she was killed.
“When she was being taken away, many villagers protested but we were threatened by the police. There were those who had gone out to hunt from other villages and had heard her screaming in the forest. When the body was given to us, it was in a mutilated state,” said Madkam Lakshmi.
Sukma SP I K Elsela said, “We welcome the court’s decision, and it will bring everyone closer to the truth. It is the truth that Hidme was a Naxal, and that she was neither raped nor killed. The case is now open, and the facts will come out very soon.”