Chandan Das in Jamshedpur for Khabar South Asia
In this June 2010 file photo, government-backed troops stand guard as women walk in a Chhattisgarh village. India’s home ministry says Maoist insurgents, known as Naxals, used women and minors as human shields during a recent encounter with the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and state police. [Rupak De Chowdhuri/Reuters]
Maoist insurgents have resorted to using civilians as human shields, India’s home minister asserted this week as security forces faced criticism over casualties in a June 27th-28th action against the rebels.
Acting on a tip, the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and Chhattisgarh state police carried out a three-pronged attack in the dense forests of Basaguda and Jagargunda, killing nineteen people. According to the police, three top Maoist leaders, going by the names Mahesh, Somulu and Nagesh, were gunned down during the operation.
But concerns about civilian loss of life surfaced immediately after the encounter, with local people saying many of those slain were not Naxals, as the Maost insurgents are locally known, but had been driven by the militants into the forest, where they were caught up in the raid.
On Wednesday (July 4th) Home Minister P. Chidambaram expressed deep regret that innocent victims may have been drawn into the violence.