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Chhattisgarh Scheduled Tribes panel to probe charges against BSF personnel

Aman Sethi

“Adivasis in Chhattisgarh tortured into confessing that they were Maoists”

— Photo: AMAN SETHI

Tell-tale marks:The swollen feet of Bidde Ram, an Adivasi of Kanker in Chhattisgarh, who was allegedly tortured by Border Security Force personnel.

Raipur: Responding to allegations that Border Security Force personnel tortured Adivasis in Kanker, Chhattisgarh, into confessing that they were Maoist cadres, the Chhattisgarh Commission for Scheduled Tribes has initiated an inquiry into the incident.

The allegations were published by The Hindu on September 11 and September 13 as part of an investigation into the arrest of 17 alleged Maoists at Kanker last week. Adivasis of Pachangi and Aloor villages in Kanker told this correspondent that 17 villagers were picked up by the BSF on September 5 and 6, taken to the BSF camp at Durgkondal and tortured over a period of three days.

The BSF also stands accused of assaulting 40 men, five of whom are still recuperating in a hospital in Kanker, and molesting two women, one of whom is a minor, as part of the two-day cordon and search operation.

“We have recorded the villagers' testimonies,” said Deolal Dugga, chairman of the Chhattisgarh Commission for Scheduled Tribes, who visited Durgkondal this afternoon. “We shall submit our report to the Central Commission and the Chhattisgarh Chief Minister,” he said.

Mr. Dugga is prominent Adivasi politician in the ruling Bhartiya Janta Party.

“It seems that some injustices may have occurred,” Mr. Dugga admitted, even as he cautioned that the Commission was yet to complete its probe.

Speaking off record, BSF sources said a medical examination of the five hospitalised men suggested that two of them had swollen feet and contusions on the hips and buttocks.

A doctor familiar with the first medical probe conducted on September 6 said that hairline fractures were found on Bidde Ram's feet.

Other injuries lent credence to his allegation that he was sodomised with a stick.

The doctor also warned that subsequent medical examinations would prove useless as the signs of injury would disappear within 5 days of the assault.

The BSF is also conducting a parallel inquiry into the incident. Its Director, Raman Srivastava, told this correspondent that anyone found guilty would not be spared.

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