BANGALORE, FEB. 8 - 2005. The body of the naxalite leader, Saketh Rajan, alias Prem, who was shot dead in an encounter in Chikmagalur district on Sunday, was cremated at the Kalpalli crematorium in Fraser Town police station limits today. The unidentified body of the other naxalite killed in the encounter was buried.
The situation was tense immediately after the cremation, as members of the Citizens' Initiative for Peace (CIP) and others alleged that the police had disposed of the bodies disobeying the order of the Chief Minister, N. Dharam Singh, to hand them over to the CIP.
Its activists and supporters led by Gaddar, balladeer, and Varavara Rao, revolutionary poet from Andhra Pradesh, staged a demonstration saying that they were deliberately misled by the police on where the bodies had been taken. Gauri Lankesh of the CIP said they had gone to the Bowring Hospital mortuary to claim the bodies as agreed during the meeting with the Chief Minister on Monday. "But the police hit our men and took away the bodies in a vehicle. We were told that the bodies were being taken to the Wilson Garden crematorium. But when we went there, we came to know that they had been taken to Kalpalli."
The Director-General and Inspector-General of Police, S.N. Borkar, told presspersons he was not aware of what had transpired between the CIP activists and the Chief Minister. But Saketh's mother, Rajalakshmi Soundarajan, wrote a letter to the police that she did not want to see the body of her son "who has been away for almost 20 years."
She asked the police to cremate the body in Bangalore. As per her wish, we cremated Saketh's body at Kalpalli, he said.
Earlier, the two bodies were brought from Chikmagalur to Bowring Hospital here this morning to conduct the second autopsy, as ordered by the Government.
The autopsy, Mr. Borkar said, was conducted under the supervision of the Deputy Commissioner of Chikmagalur district, Rajendra Kumar Kataria. The Additional Director-General of Police (Law and Order), Subash Bharani, was present. The entire process was videotaped.
The body of the other naxalite, Mr. Borkar said, "was in a highly decomposed state. The body is unidentified and nobody has come forward to claim it. Therefore we buried the body so that it can be exhumed, if needed, later."
The final rites were carried out by 5.30 p.m., a senior police official said.
Ms. Lankesh charged that the police had not followed the order of the Chief Minister to hand over the bodies of the naxalites to the CIP. "Saketh's mother herself had agreed to the cremation of her son's body by the CIP. She had also informed this to the Chief Minister on telephone. The Chief Minister, in turn, had agreed to the handing over of the bodies (to us)."
Ms. Lankesh said the police cremated the bodies before they could reach Kalpalli. "They did not wait for the arrival of Gaddar and Varavara Rao despite prior intimation given by us," she said.
Several members of CIP, including Ms. Lankesh, staged a dharna near the burial ground. They blocked the car of the Deputy Commissioner of Police (East), N. Shivakumar, for about 15 minutes. The protesters dispersed around 6.30 p.m