A delegation headed by Chhattisgarh Pradesh Congress Committee chief Nand Kumar Patel has submitted a memorandum to the Inspector-General of Police, Ambikapur range, demanding a thorough investigation into a July 6 incident in which a girl was fatally shot.
While the police claim that Meena Khalko, 16, from Kharcha village in Surguja, was shot dead during a prolonged encounter with armed cadres of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist) the Congress delegation and local press reports say the girl had no contact with the Maoists.
“On the night of July 5, a party of policemen left on patrol based on specific intelligence,” said Balrampur Superintendent of Police J.S. Meena, “At 3.30 a.m., they came across a large party of Maoists which opened fire. The police fired back in self-defence. After the encounter, they found a wounded woman Maoist who gave her name as Meena [Khalko]. She was brought back to the Balrampur hospital but was declared dead on arrival.”
The SP said the police recovered a muzzle-loading shotgun, a mobile phone, and cartridges from the site. To a question, he said Khalko was wearing civilian clothes and was not in uniform.
“There is no doubt in my mind that Meena [Khalko] was neither a Naxalite nor was there any encounter,” said T.S. Singh Deo, a senior Congress leader from Surguja, who visited her village. “We met over 1,000 villagers, village elders, sarpanches and her immediate family and they were all unanimous in their opinion that Khalko had never had any contact with the Maoists.”
The controversy arose when Yagnyawalky Vashisht, a reporter for Sahara Samay, visited Kharcha village soon after the incident and found no evidence of an encounter. According to his story, Mr. Vashist was unable to find any spent shells, blood stains, or physical signs of an exchange of fire. He also interviewed a doctor charged with conducting the post-mortem, who said Khalko had been shot twice from a distance of about 50 metres.
The SP said the police were yet to receive the post-mortem results. “We are conducting a detailed investigation into the incident,” he said.
According to reports in the local newspapers, Chief Minister Raman Singh has ordered an enquiry into the incident. Hindu