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Sidhu family refuses to take body

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By NARESH JANA
  • Published 28.07.10
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Sidhu Soren (top); Lakshmimoni, his mother, on Tuesday. (Samir Mondal)

Goaltore, July 27: Sidhu Soren’s family has refused to take his body and claimed the leader of the Maoist-backed People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities was a martyr “for his country” who was killed in sleep.

“My son has laid down his life for his country. We will not take his body from the police. What will I do with a dead son?” asked Sidhu’s father Jamadar Baskey, shortly after turning away policemen who had gone to his the family’s house this morning and asked him to identify Sidhu’s body in the morgue of the Midnapore Medical College and Hospital.

Sidhu, 23, was gunned down with five other Maoists yesterday in the Metala jungles near Lalgarh.

Jamadar’s comments almost echoed the claims by a Maoist source after the encounter yesterday that Sidhu had “committed suicide while fighting like a hero” without specifying if he did so to avoid imminent capture.

Jamadar sounded defiant and warned of retaliation. “I told the policemen I will not go (to the morgue). The police have killed my son in cold blood while he was sleeping. The police can’t take control of Jungle Mahal by killing my son. The villagers will resist the police with bows and arrows,” said the 55-year-old small farmer, sitting in the courtyard of his two-storey mud-walled house in Karkata, a small tribal village 15km from Lalgarh town.

Sidhu alias Bhuta Baskey — the secretary of People’s Committee and the chief of its armed wing Gana Militia — was the second of Jamadar’s five sons and a daughter.

All of Sidhu’s family had gathered at their house. Neighbours streamed in to console them. Sidhu’s mother, Lakshmimoni, sat with her other sons and daughter, occasionally breaking down.

The villagers backed what Sidhu did as a leader of the People’s Committee. “In our village there is no electricity and the only tube-well is out of order. No political party has ever thought of our plight. What Sidhu was doing is right. The police have killed him to take revenge,” said Gurudas Soren, who had come from adjoining Bandhgora.

Sidhu’s elder brother Sagen echoed Gurudas. “We don’t believe he was a Maoist. The police shot him dead and then placed the arms and ammunition on him,” said Sagen.

Jamadar said Sidhu was a Class IX dropout and had been out of home for the past seven years.

Sidhu’s youngest brother Gopi, a Class VII student at Ramgarh High School, said the People’s Committee leader had called about two months ago. “He asked me to take care of my parents.”

West Midnapore police chief Manoj Verma said the authorities would have to cremate the body if the family remained adamant. “Sidhu Soren was a hardcore Maoist. If his family does not identify and take the body, we will cremate it according to the law.”