Cops own up to child deaths in raid

SHEENA K, Telegraph India

Bodies kept at the police station for identification. Picture by Bishwajeet Chakraborty

Raipur, June 30: Chhattisgarh police today admitted that the 18 victims of yesterday’s anti-Maoist operation included children and women but sparked fresh controversy by claiming they were all rebel cadres.

The admission came after the bodies were laid out in front of a police station to facilitate identification — a routine procedure — and journalists took photographs. It was clear that several of the victims were children and at least one seemed a girl.

The BJP government had also come under pressure from the Congress, which sent a team to the remote encounter site and claimed that “preliminary information” suggested at least three children “below the age of eight” and several women were among the dead.

The security forces had yesterday claimed to have killed 17 Maoists in a pre-dawn jungle swoop in Bijapur district — an injured rebel died later in hospital — but local people had alleged that most of those slain were villagers attending a meeting called by the rebels.

“As far as our information is concerned, more than a dozen innocent villagers were killed,” state Congress president Nandkumar Patel said today. Continue reading