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Dantewada: 24-year-old tribal woman killed in ‘maoist encounter’; family claims it was staged, alleges rape

A 24-year-old tribal woman was allegedly killed in an encounter on May 31 in the Dantewada town of Chhattisgarh. According to her family, she was picked up from her house by the police. Her mother also alleged she was raped, and claimed her body was mutilated when it was handed to them.

The family submitted a complaint to the local police on Sunday. An FIR is yet to be registered.

On May 31, the woman was gunned down by DRG personnel, allegedly after they encountered a team of maoists in Geedam area of Dantewada. The Dantewada police had in a press release stated that they found arms and ammunition on her, along with the bag and other essentials carried by maoists.

The family, however, has a different version of the incident. According to the victim’s mother, she was picked up from her house in the early hours of May 30.

In a letter addressed to the station-in charge, the mother of the tribal woman said she was asleep along with her daughter and an eight-year-old neighbour when some female constables tried to arrest her daughter. The letter also names seven men, all DRG personnel from nearby villages, who allegedly picked up the woman and forcefully took her with them.

“We ran behind the vehicle in which they had taken my daughter for at least half a kilometre,” the mother said in her letter. The next morning, when the family approached the police, they were told to go to Dantewada, where they were informed that their daughter had died in police firing.

In the letter, the family also alleged their daughter’s body had injuries on her breasts, thighs and her hand.

The sarpanch of the village supported the family’s claims, stating that the entire village had seen the woman being picked up from her house. “She was to get married in June. She had been involved with maoists around five years ago, but had returned home a couple of years back. There were no weapons in their house, and she did not carry any on her either,” he said.

A senior police official said the family was told to go to Dantewada, as the incident had allegedly taken place in Geedam. “The family and villagers had all attended a meeting on June 4, called by maoists. They are being forced to protest.”

According to Bastar IG P Sundarraj, the woman died in an exchange of fire between maoists and DRG personnel in Gumalnar area. “On May 31, based on a tip-off about the presence of maoist cadres from PLGA Platoon No 16, an operation was launched in Gumalnar area. An exchange of fire took place between Dantewada DRG and maoists at around 6.30 am. During a search operation later, a woman maoist’s body was recovered which was identified as that of the woman concerned. She carried a reward of ₹2 lakh. Two country-made weapons and improvised explosive devices IEDs were also recovered from the site,” he said.

Dantewada SP Abhishek Pallava stated the woman was a member of platoon No 16 and her name had come up in the interrogation records of all surrendered and arrested maoists of Indrawati Area Committee of CPI (Maoist) and her platoon.

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