Twenty-six years after she saw her uncle, Deepika Musthyala identified the body of Communist Party of India (Maoist) Polit Bureau member Koteswar Rao alias Kishenji in the mortuary of the Midnapore Medical College and Hospital here on Saturday morning.
Later in the day, the body was handed over to Ms. Deepika, who then flew with it to Hyderabad. From there, the body will be taken to Peddapalli, Kishenji's native town in Karimnagar district of Andhra Pradesh where the last rites will be performed on Sunday.
The family did not take any help from the State government. “They offered to arrange for tickets but we refused to take any help,” Maoist sympathiser Varavara Rao said.
Kishenji was gunned down in an encounter in the Burisole forest in Paschim Medinipur district on Thursday.
“I identified my uncle… I have seen him as a small child. The face cut resembles grandfather and his brothers and I have seen him on news channels,” Ms. Deepika said.
She insisted that her uncle was killed in a fake encounter. “Besides the bullet, there are horrible injuries with burns on various parts on the body,” Ms. Deepika said showing photographs of the body taken on her cellphone, to reporters.
Mr. Rao also insisted that Kishenji was captured and tortured in custody.
“In the last 43 years, I have seen so many bodies killed in so-called encounters but have not seen a body like this one… There is no place on the body where there is no injury,' he said.
Pointing out the various court orders, including one of the Supreme Court which stated that a case for every encounter has to be registered at a police station, Mr. Rao said a case of murder under Section 302 of the IPC should be booked.
However, senior police officials refuted all charges that the encounter was a fake one.
“There is no question of a fake encounter. We have detained a few people and got specific intelligence information, which was followed by more concrete information. Before the Maoists could regroup, we launched our offensive and were able to find him,” Gangeshwar Singh, Inspector-General of Police, Western Zone, told The Hindu.
The police asked him to surrender but there was heavy fire from the other side, Mr. Singh said.
Investigation of the encounter has been handed over to the Criminal Investigation Department. An FIR was lodged at the Jamboni police station.
“This is nothing unusual. It happens in most cases where police conducts an encounter,” he said.