Sulo Kashyap, the father of an 18-year-old youth who was killed by the police last year after being tagged a Naxalite, has moved the Chhattisgarh High Court seeking justice for his son and protection for his family from alleged constant abuse by the authorities trying to silence their voices against the cold-blooded murder.
Early this month, Justice Goutam Bhaduri had directed the Jagdalpur police to ensure Sulo's safety while the matter is pending hearing.
After facing harassment and pressure tactics, including offer of land, to remain silent on his son Arjun's “brutal and cold-blooded” murder, Bastar resident Sulo gathered courage to move court.
In his petition filed through advocate Nikita Agarwal, he narrated how Arjun was branded an absconding Naxalite and killed in August 2016.
Sulo, an Adivasi, said Arjun was forcibly picked up by the police from his house on the night of August 15, 2015.
On August 16, 2016, the Bastar police claimed that Maoists’ Jan Militia commander, Arjun, was gunned down by composite teams of security forces, which included DRG (District Reserve Group), STF (Special Task Force) and district force, in the forests of Chandameta under Darbha police station limits of the district in the morning of August 16, 2016, after an hour-long gunbattle with the Maoists. They claimed that Arjun had been involved in three major incidents – triggering an explosion on a government ambulance in 2014 in Kamanar that left seven dead, including five jawans of the Central Reserve Police Force; the murder of a former village sarpanch of Koleng in May 2015, and the killing of a villager from Kandanar village.
Arjun was about 18-year-old and already battling false charges of being a Naxalite in a case in which he was arrested in May 2015. He was being represented by the Jagdalpur Legal Aid Group in that case and granted bail by the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) in December 2015.
Since then, he had been appearing before the JJB on every hearing, the last which he had attended was just 20 days before he was killed in the alleged encounter. Arjun left behind his widow and family.
Jagdalpur Legal Aid Group said the police, after killing him, claimed that he was an absconding Naxalite who had a bounty of Rs 3 lakh on his head while Arjun was a school-going boy when he had been arrested in 2015, who had passed his 9th standard in 2013 after which he filled the form to give exam for his 10th boards but was unable to sit for the exams owing to health issues. He was intending to finish his 10th class but couldn’t as a result of his false arrest in 2015.
After his murder, the police have allegedly been harassing Sulo and his family, including two sisters.
Sulo has been taken into custody on multiple occasions and subjected to police torture.
He has now sought direction to the State and its agencies to ensure his and his family’s safety from any reprisals from the local police and ensure that they are not harassed for filing petition in the high court.
His plea also said that “looking at the gravity of the offence, until the investigation is complete, some of the accused identified and named by the Petitioner in the petition be immediately suspended and barred from accompanying the security forces and police in any other search, anti-Naxal or encounter operations”.
Sulo also requested that record relating to the operation in which Arjun was killed and his post-mortem video be produced before the court.
Besides, he sought interim compensation/financial assistance to his family and Arjun’s widow.