4 Responses to Maoist Attack on Bus in Dantewada, India

Kishenji, a leader of the CPI (Maoist) in West Bengal, qtd by Press Trust of India, The Hindu, 19 May 2010

On the Dantewada killings he [Kishenji] said “We are very sorry for death of the innocent people, but we request people not to travel with the police in the same vehicle.  Our fight is not with the people, but with the government”.

Arundhati RoyOutlook, 19 May 2010

Media reports say that the Maoists have deliberately targeted and killed civilians in Dantewara.  If this is true, it is absolutely inexcusable and cannot be justified on any count.  However, sections of the mainstream media have often been biased and incorrect in their reportage.  Some accounts suggest that apart from SPOs [Special Police Officers] and police, the other passengers in the bus were mainly those who had applied to be recruited as SPOs.

We will have to wait for more information.  If there were indeed civilians in the bus, it is irresponsible of the government to expose them to harm in a war zone by allowing police and SPOs (carriers of the mantle of all the crimes of Salwa Judum) to use public transport.  Also, for a sense of perspective, let’s not forget that right at this moment, in Kalinganagar and Jagatsingpur in Orissa, hundreds of police are firing on unarmed people protesting the corporate takeover of their land.

People’s Union for Civil Liberties, 17 May 2010

PUCL strongly condemns the brutal killing of the innocent civilians traveling in a bus at Chingavaram on the Dantewada-Sukhma road in Chhattisgarh on 17 May 2010.

Killing of innocent civilians is the most heinous crime against the humanity and has no justification whatsoever.  PUCL feels that no objective could be desirable that is sought to be achieved at the cost of human lives and security.  As is evident from the past experience dialogue remains the most potent and viable means of lasting peace.

It is reported in the press that Home Minister has offered for talks with the CPI (Maoists), subject to cession of violence.  PUCL appeals to the good sense of the fighting parties to come to the negotiating table and resolve the outstanding issues through the process of a dialogue.

Pushkar Raj, General Secretary

* * *

CPI (Maoist) Special Zone Committee member of Dandakaranya, Ramanna, spoke to CNN-IBN’s Rupashree Nanda from Bastar over phone. Ramanna said Maoists regretted the killing of civilians but alleges that the police used them as human shields. Below are excerpts from this interview on this issue.

CNN-IBN: What you have to say about Monday’s killing of civilians?

Ramanna: In yesterday’s (Monday’s) incident it is alleged that Maoists targeted civilians. Our target were Koya commanders. Our aim was precise and correct and 16 Koya commanders are dead. Police was using civilians as human shields.

CNN-IBN: If the government did a wrong thing by using civilians as human shields, can you say that you did the right thing in blasting a bus and killing innocent and poor people?

Ramanna: You are right. Our target were not civilians. Our target were the Koya commanders. The administration is using civilians as a human shield, so they got killed. But I regret this.

CNN-IBN: What are your issues? What can be done so that people stop killing and being killed?

Ramanna: We also agree that the killing has to stop but it is the government (shashan) that is killing its own people. In Operation Green Hunt they have already killed 150 adivasis (tribals). The Gompad massacre is still being heard in the Supreme Court. They have burnt down 3000 houses. More than 200,000 adivasis have become refugees. The government has to first rehabilitate the displaced people. When people are being displaced, how can you hold discussions? When people are not here, who will you discuss with?

CNN-IBN: If you target civilians, don’t you fear that you will lose popular support?

Ramanna: Yes. Civilian deaths constitute less than 1 per cent of the killings. In every operation we exercise extreme caution that ordinary people should not suffer. That is the discipline we follow. That is our code of conduct. About yesterday, we agree we made a mistake, we regret it. We don’t have a policy of killing people. We serve people. You can come, investigate and find out how many innocent civilians we have killed.

CNN-IBN: Our viewers would want to know whether you will target civilians again?

Ramanna: No we will not target civilians We have not done that before, are not doing it now and will not do it in the future. It is the police, which brought the civilians in the bus.



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