DARBHA (JAGDALPUR): For anti-Maoist crusader and Congress veteran Mahendra Karma, the last few minutes of his life must have been excruciatingly tortuous: a handful of hardened female combatants took turns to stab him 78 times, making sure they inflicted maximum pain before he met his end.
The precise description of Karma’s execution was provided by two shepherd boys to CRPF’s elite CoBRA commandos, some of who later spoke to TOI. To ensure that the Maoists had got the man on the top of their hit-list, the women cadre — 10-12 of them — first checked with other Congressmen whether it was indeed Karma even though he had revealed his identity to the Maoists. When it was confirmed, the women began making fun of him, asking him about his “last wish”.
“Karma was taken away from the roadside into a thicket and asked whether he wanted to put on fresh clothes or have his last meal,” said a commando, quoting the shepherds, who stood mute spectators to the ghastly killing. “One person was sent to bring his lunch from his vehicle. But Karma remained silent with hands tied behind his back. Then, a dark complexioned woman fired a shot in his back. But he did not fall down. Another woman broke his leg with a log of wood and he collapsed. Soon, other women joined her and began stabbing his face,” said the commando.
While the Maoists had already claimed that their purpose was to “punish” Karma for launching Salwa Judum, the controversial anti-Maoist armed tribal militia, the women rebels attacked him as if they had a personal score to settle. But then the Maoists are known for their brutal techniques of killing their enemies, especially suspected police informers and security personnel. In 2009, the macabre beheading of Jharkhand special branch inspector Francis Induwar by Maoists was condemned even by their supporters.
Karma’s post-mortem report confirmed the testimonies of the shepherds. His body was found with 78 stab wounds, including three on his face and four on his buttocks. His head was crushed with rocks.
The shepherds’ statement that Karma was shot only twice, too, was confirmed in the autopsy report, handed over to Jagdalpur police by forensic medicine department of the local medical college. The shepherds had heard one of the women shouting and firing at his buttock at first. And then, he was shot at his abdomen after he died. Both the bullets went through his body and neither could be recovered.