3 tribals killed in Salwa Judum camp, say widows

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Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh. Apr 8 (UNI) Three tribal women inmates of a Salwa Judum relief camp at Matwada in Chhattisgarh's Bijapur district have alleged that their husbands were killed by security personnel deployed at the camp.

The women in their 30s - Ayate, Ungi and Bijje- have filed a petition in the Chhattisgarh High Court today seeking justice as the police did not entertain their request to file an FIR and action against the police officials involved in their brutal murder in broad daylight.

The tribal women, who got support from Gandhian social worker Himanshu Kumar, alleged that a Sub-Inspector of Police along with some CRPF personnel and few Special Police Officers (SPOs) dragged their husbands out of their houses and killed them brutally on March 18, 2008.

Deva (35), Madda(35) and Hedma(30) were tortured to death by policemen deployed for their security at the camp, said the women's counsel Saurabh Daangi.

Local tribal youth, who were imparted training to handle weapons, were appointed SPOs on fixed monthly salary of Rs 1500 to assist the police in anti-naxal operations in Bastar region.

Another campmate Somdu, who survived the torture, told reporters here that more than 20 policemen, including CRPF jawans and SPOs, raided their huts at the camp and dragged them out after beating them mercilessly.

Somdu said 'There were around 22 police Jawans and SPOs, but I could recognise SPOs Khosa and Portu and Sub-Inspector Patel.'' Somdu recalls that ''the police jawans along with SPOs and CRPF personnel tied our hands with our lungis and beat us with batons and gun buts for four hours continuously''.

Somdu said he could not bear the torture for long and fell unconscious. The tormentors left him thinking he was dead and did not notice his movements when he crept silently to his hut and saved his life. But they killed Deva, Madda and Hedma, he said, adding that next day, the police issued a press release claiming that the Maoist ultras had killed these three tribals.

Human rights groups and Left parties allege that nearly 1,000 people were killed by Salwa Judum activists and another 4,000 were untraceable after the state government-supported movement was launched in June 2005.

Mr Kumar, who runs Vanwasi Chetna Aashram at Kanwalnaar near Dantewada, said he was informed by Baman, brother of deceased Deva, about this shocking incident on March 25. He tried to lodge the FIR against the culprits, but in vain.

Ankit Garg, Superintendent of Police, Bijapur, had turned down the demand for lodging a fresh FIR saying an FIR had already been lodged against unknown naxalites for killing three tribals, he alleged.

Deva's 58-year-old uncle Haadma, who brought up Deva like a son, says his family and neighbours were now facing threats from the police, administration, Sarpanch and Janpad Panchayat President Vikram Singh asking them not to press for inquiry into the custodial deaths.

UNI ABS PK HT1545

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