Tragic case of Madkam Hidme's fake encounter, her mother Lakshmi's fight for justice continues
Madkam Hidme versus State of Chhattisgarh & Ors, Writ Petition (Cr) No. 144 of 2016, High Court of Chhattisgarh The Petitioner is the state convener of the political party Aam Aadmi Party. This Petition on account of the issue of rape and fake encounter of Madkam Hidme alleged by the family and villagers. The family of the deceased had approached the party leaders for help after the body of the young girl was handed over to them whom the police alleged to have killed in an encounter. According to the family and the villagers on the date of the incident June 13, 2016, the police forces came to village Gompad in the morning. They saw Madkam Hidme thrashing paddy in her hut. They caught her and dragged her towards nearby jungle. The women of the village followed the police but they were beaten and chased away. It was also informed by the villagers that when the girl was at her home and thrashing paddy, she was wearing a saree, bangles and nail polish. However, when the family received the dead body, the young girl was wearing pant shirt, appearing to be a maoist militant uniform but she was still wearing bangles and nail polish. The villagers allege that the girl was raped and shot at. She had ten bullet injuries, however there were no holes in the clothes she was wearing. The family was informed through the Gram Panchayat Sachiv to get the body from Sukma. They went and received the body from Sukma. The body was swollen. As per the family and villagers account, it did not appear that post mortem had been conducted. The girl was wearing crispy ironed pant and shirt without any bullet holes. The villagers sought help from Ms. Soni Sori (State in Charge, Campaign Committee, AAP) and other activists and asked them to come to the village to help them make a demand for a post mortem and fair investigation. It is pertinent to note that the family of the deceased has received no information from the magistrate regarding any enquiry, post mortem and have not been given a copy of the post mortem report, or the FIR relating to the alleged encounter.The family has not faith that justice will not done without the intervention of the Hon’ble Court. The petitioner and his colleagues are approaching the Hon’ble Court through this Public Interest Litigation Petition. The Public Interest Litigation (PIL) is substantiated by sources of information which is given to the petitioner by Ms. Soni Sori (State in Charge, Campaign Committee,AAP) who is in constant touch with the family of the deceased, villagers of the village Gompad and the newspaper. The Petitioners prays that the instant petition seeks remedy for the violation of fundamental rights of deceased Madkam Hidme and her family members; to allow the instant petition be called for entire related documents; to direct the authorities to register an FIR U/s 302,376 Indian Penal Code; to direct the respondents authorities to direct investigation by Special Investigation Team consisting of senior police officers from outside the state of Chhattisgarh; further to direct the respondent authorities to order a judicial enquiry to be conducted in the incident herein; to pass an order directing for the payment of compensation to the relatives/dependants of deceased madkam Hidme in the tune of 20,00,000/- (twenty lakhs). Status As per the order dated 01/02/2017, a written communication has been received from the District and Sessions Judge, Dantewada seeking extension of time in submitting his report. Learned Sessions Judge has given a schedule of the way he has functioned in this case. The Hon’ble High Court had passed an order on 19.7.2016 directing the District and Sessions Judge to submit his report by 31.12.2016. The matter was taken up by him on 3.8.2016 when he directed the parties to be present on 31.8.2016. On 31.8.2016, both the parties were present and sought time for filing certain documents. The present Presiding Officer took charge on 8.9.2016. On 26.9.2016, the Officer was on leave and the case was adjourned to 3.8.2016. On 3.8.2016, the matter was listed before the District and Sessions Judge when an application was filed on behalf of the complainant for production of certain documents. The matter was adjourned to 7.10.2016 when the order was passed to produce those documents. The matter was adjourned to 21.10.2016 and issues were framed and the matter was listed on 4.11.2016 for evidence of the Petitioner. On 4.11.2016, the Presiding Officer was again on leave and the case was adjourned to 11.11.2016. The Petitioner filed a list of witnesses and the case was listed for recording the statements of witnesses on 26.11.2016 on which date, 4 witnesses were present but only the statement of the Petitioner could be recorded and the matter was adjourned to 28.11.2016. On this date, 4 witnesses were examined and cross-examined. Thereafter, examination-in-chief of two more witnesses of the Petitioner was mentioned and affidavit of one witness was produced. Then, the case was listed on 9.12.2016 on which date, neither the Petitioner nor her witnesses were present on account of ill health of the Petitioner. Then the matter was adjourned to 20.12.2016 on which date, the two witnesses were examined and thereafter, request for issuance of summons to certain officials was made on behalf of the Petitioner. The petitioner’s witnesses have been examined and cross- examined and the evidence of the State is to be adduced. Description Background The present petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India is being filed by the way of Public Interest Litigation and the petitioner has no personal interest. The petition is being filed in the interest of deceased young tribal woman Madkam Hidme whose family has alleged that she was killed in cold blood by the police forces as detailed in the present petition.The petitioner is the state convenor of political activist in the Bastar region for the last twenty years. By profession the petitioner is an agricultural scientist, and Jawaharlal Agriculture University, Jabalpur. The petitioner has not filed any public interest petition. The present petition the petitioner is filing on his own. He is filing the petition on account of the issue of rape and fake encounter of Madkam Hidme alleged by the family and villagers. The family of the deceased had approached the party leaders for help after the body of the young girl was handed over to them whom the police alleged to have killed in an encounter, The issue is being followed with the authorities by the petitioners colleague Ms. Soni Sori who is a tribal social activist and is prominent leader of political party namely Aam Aadmi Party, and other party leaders. She is known for espousing the cause of tribal persons of the area with the different authorities and the people of the area regard her very highly. On 14.06.2016 Ms. Soni Sori were contacted over mobile by the villagers of the village Gompad and were informed that the Madkam Hidme., D/O Deva aged about 20 years R/O village Gompad was raped and killed in cold blood by the police forces. On the date of the incidence 13.6.2016, the police forces came to village Gompad in the morning. They saw Madkam Hidme thrashing paddy in her hut .They caught her and dragged her towards the nearby jungle. The women of the village followed the police but they were beaten and chased away. It was also informed by the villagers that when the girl was at her home and threshing paddy, she was wearing a saree, bangles, nail polish. However when the family received the dead body, the young girl was wearing pant shirt, appearing to be a maoist militant uniform, however she was still wearing bangles and nail polish. The villagers allege that the girl was raped and shot at. She had ten bullet injuries, however there were no holes in the clothes she was wearing. The family was informed through the Gram Panchayat Sachiv to get the body from Sukma. They went and received the body from Sukma. The body was swollen. As per the family and villagers account, it did not appear that post mortem had been conducted. The girl was wearing crispy ironed pant and shirt without any bullet holes. The villagers sought the help from Ms. Soni Sori and other activists and asked them to make a demand for a post mortem and fair investigation. Ms. Soni Sori and other political and social activists decided to visit the village. They tried to visit the village Gompad along with other Aam Aadmi Party workers and they proceed towards the village on 5.06.2016 . Enroute, they were stopped by the security forces at village Injaram at about 2pm , which is about 35kms from village Gompad. The security persons informed that they are under instructions from their superior authority to stop them from visiting the village Gompad. They demanded an autopsy to be conducted on the dead body and such autopsy be video-graphed and a copy of the video be given to the family members of the deceased in a CD. However the police did not accept their demands. The contingent was stopped by the Sub-Inspector Konta from proceeding further. That even till today i.e 17.6.2016 the AAP leaders are not being allowed to visit the village on the pretext of shortage of security. The family and the villagers in Gompad waited for Ms. Soni Sori and others to arrive until 4pm. However thereafter they decided to bury the body. As per their tradition, they cremated the body, however in hope of a fair investigation and justice they have covered the body in alt and sand and have buried it. The photograph of the dead body annexed clearly depicts that the girl was wearing crisply ironed clothes and the cloth is brand new. The trouser worn by the girl has been folded and is not of her size. The gun which is purportedly a bharmar has been planted just next to her hand. The family has not been given a copy of any post mortem report or FIR relating to the incident. The family of the deceased and the villagers are aghast and in shock, the young girl had no criminal antecedents, was never called by the police for any questioning. She was an ordinary village girl, she was to get married this year. The grounds are as follows: The family and the villagers have alleged that Madkam Hidme was killed in cold blood and not in any encounter, the family and the villagers are witness to the fact that Madkam Hidme was dragged out of her house by the forces. She was wearing a saree when she was taken by the police who claim to have recovered her in maoist uniform. The uniform has no holes while the girl has received several bullet injuries; The family of the deceased is convinced that justice will not be done unless a post mortem is conducted in the presence of a doctor of their choice, and is video-graphed as per the guidelines issued by NHRC, and the report and video are handed over to them immediately; This is not a first instance of this kind in Chhattisgarh. A judicial enquiry conducted by District Judge Doctor Anita Jha found 11 policemen culpable in rape and murder of another tribal girl Meena Xalxo in Surguja which is projected to be an encounter. Unless a similar independent investigation is conducted the family and the petitioners have no hope that justice will be done; The family of the deceased sought the petitioners and others help, and the respondent authorities have obstructed them from helping therefore the petitioners has no option but to approach the Hon’ble Court for justice. The petitioner’s statement in this regard have been reported in the newspaper. Current Status An amicus Curiae has been appointed and the matter is adjourned and further listed. Further Readings: Guidelines regarding conducting of magisterial enquiry in cases of Death in Custody or in the course of police station. Guidelines for video-filming and photography of post mortem examination in case of death in police action.