Over a month after Manuram Nureti, initially alleged to be a Maoist, was killed in a 'police encounter' in Bastar, his wife Manvati wrote to Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel alleging that they were being 'forced to change their statement' in favour of the police.
After labelling him as a Maoist initially, the police later retracted their own claim on 1 February and said that Nureti was in fact "a normal villager who had gone hunting with his friends."
Speaking to the media on 12 March, Manvati alleged, “The policemen in Narayanpur are now pressurising us to change our statements, which we have given in magisterial inquiry. They are also asking us to take back the complaint."
She also told the media that she has written a letter to the chief minister seeking justice and informing him of the delay in registering First Information Report (FIR) by the police.
"After police accepted that my husband was not a Maoist , I had submitted a written complaint with police, on February 15, demanding an FIR against the policemen who killed my husband but till now no FIR has been registered."Manvati, Wife of Manuram Nureti
Even as the police had first claimed that Manuram Nureti, 'a Maoist,' had been killed in an encounter with security forces, his family had firmly challenged the police's version.
His brother who serves in Chhattisgarh Police's District Reserve Guards (DRG) had told media that Manuram was not a Maoist but in fact preparing to join the police force.
However, denying Manvati's recent allegations against the police, P Sundarraj, Inspector General, Bastar range, said, "We have ourselves acknowledged that initially it looked like he was associated with Maoists but as the investigation proceeded various evidences and testimonials indicated that Manuram was an ordinary tribal who got caught in the crossfire between the Maoists and police. We shared this with the media as well."
Responding to the issue of the second FIR, he said, "There is already one FIR and the investigation was done by the police. A Magisterial inquiry is being conducted by the officer not involved in the encounter. We are following all guidelines laid down by the rules and courts."
Fact-Finding Team Reiterates Manu's Innocence, Advises Demilitarisation in Bastar
A three-member fact-finding team, including lawyer and Adivasi rights activist Bela Bhatiya, also released a report on the incident which concluded three points.
"It's clear that Manuram Nureti was killed by the bullets of police and security forces and wasn't killed in any encounter or crossfire," the report read.
"Secondly, the police have registered a fake case and also shown confiscated items in this case which in itself is a serious crime."
"Thirdly, the local police is pressuring the family of the deceased so that they remain silent and do not blame the police for the death of Manuram," the report further read.