The bodies of the eight Maoists who were killed in an encounter with the joint forces in Salboni’s Ranja forest on June 16 are still lying in the morgue, Advocate General Balai Chandra Roy said during a hearing on a PIL filed by eminent writer and social activist Mahashewata Devi. He said that the state government would file a report on the encounter in four weeks.
Mahashewata Devi filed a PIL last week, alleging that the security forces had carried the bodies of those killed in the encounter by tying them to bamboo posts in an animal-like posture . The bodies are yet to be handed over to the next of kin, she said in the petition.
The petition raised doubts about whether the state police had started the investigation according to the guidelines framed by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). The guidelines stipulate that the police must start all cases of encounters carried out by the police under Section 302 of the IPC. Roy pleaded that the reason the joint forces had been deployed in Lalgarh and Salboni was that the situation there was war-like. The bodies were brought out from the forest by the security forces at a time when the exchange of firing was still continuing. There was no way vehicles could be brought inside the dense forests at that stage, Roy submitted.
Advocate Ragunath Chakraborty, counsel for Mahashewata Devi, said the NHRC has already taken up the issue of carrying of dead bodies and served a notice to the Union Home Ministry. He pointed out that Section 144CrPC has been imposed in Lalgarh and Salboni for more than a year, which itself is unconstitutional.
To this, Roy said that the situation in Lalgarh was very critical and tense. IE