The Supreme Court Monday directed a Delhi district judge to record the statements of the six Chhattisgarh tribals presented by the state government in accordance with the order last week to locate 12 missing persons.
A bench of Justices B. Sudershan Reddy and S.S. Nijjar had last Monday directed the Chhattisgarh government to produce before it 12 people – missing after moving the court for a probe into the alleged killings of over 12 villagers by security forces in Dantewada as a part of the anti-Maoist operation.
Appearing for the Chhattisgarh government, Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium told the court that six of the 12 missing had been located. The other six, he said, appeared to have crossed over to neighbouring Andhra Pradesh.
A lawsuit by human rights activist Himanshu Kumar had alleged that police and security personnel had abducted the relatives of the killed villagers to keep them away from the courts.
As the six were produced in court, Kumar’s counsel Colin Gonsalves told the bench that the state police had been keeping them in custody for the last 45 days.
Expressing apprehension about the fate of others, Gonsalves said all the six in court appeared visibly terrified and under stress and must be allowed to stay with civil right groups so that they could feel normal and speak the truth.
However, Subramanium opposed the plea saying that this would amount to giving the petitioners an opportunity to tutor the tribals into making statements against the state police and security personnel.
As the tribals spoke no language except their tribal Gond, the court ruled in favour of sending them before the district judge for recording of their statements with the help of another person.
The court decided to hear the matter again Tuesday after their statements were recorded.