Bastar has seen several protests but rarely have tribal women come out and beat their breasts, shouting slogans. Surprisingly, men tried to calm them down, pull them away but these women continued to scream and hurled stones at the Gangalur police station and nearby CRPF camp.Old and young women were protesting while carrying bodies of their husbands and sons, handed over to them around 1 pm on Sunday. They knew only Gondi and Halbi but managed a few Hindi abuses. “Wapas jao… wapas jao..,” they shouted at the CRPF camp as they laid down the bodies at the thana gate and tried to break open its lock. Two old women rattled barbed fencing of the CRPF camps and threw stones at the personnel on guard, forcing them to run for cover. “Raman Sarkar murdabaad, murdaabaad.” Some of them hurled utensils inside the thana. “Stop killing tribals; kill us now, if you dare.”
The agony did not end with their death. The bodies were lying in open field, under 45 degree sun, decomposing, badly swollen and emanating unbearable smell. CRPF men, face covered, guarded them with X-95, AK-47 with an Under Barrel Grenade Launcher.
“Jara pet par chira laga,” a doctor said. He too had his face covered. A man, Suklu, came forward and cut open a naked body. Red worms protruded out from stomach. “Dead bodies become like balloon. When you cut them, they produce fart like sound,” a CRPF cop explained. Relatives of the deceased held the bodies as the doctor examined the bodies with a stick, from a distance.
“Don’t you have another blade, a new one,” Civil Surgeon Dr B R Pujari asked his colleagues. Only two blades were used so far, and five bodies had been cut open from various sides, the doctor thought of changing the blade. But there was none. Suklu did not change surgical gloves through the process.
Pujari admitted that it’s against the law to conduct postmortem in open, that too in police presence, and the entire process was probably illegal. “Under certain conditions, an officer with rank of SDM and above can give permission to conduct it otherwise,” he tried to explain.
SDM Virendra Bahadur Panchbhai said: “The only requirement for postmortem is of adequate light. Other things can be relaxed in special situations.”
An hour later, their women relatives were protesting outside the thana for justice. They had arrived here on Saturday evening when police forcibly brought the bodies along, but now after nearly 24 hours men convinced them to take the bodies back home. The administration arranged for a tractor, but the terrain was difficult and it left them in between. And then began a two-hour-long journey to carry the bodies on shoulders.
Two bodies, father and son Joga and Badru, were kept on the same logs and cremated together. “It’s not unusual among tribals. When a person loves someone a lot, we cremate together,” said a tribal.
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