NEW DELHI: Prominent members of civil society have called for a judicial inquiry into the massacre of 19 adivasi men, women and children who were allegedly Maoists and urged the Chhattisgarh government to suspend its combing operations and initiate peace talks.
“We are deeply saddened at the indiscriminate killing of adivasis in Kottaguda Panchayat of Bijapur as part of the security force’s combing operations. Even if they were attending a Maoist meeting, the CRPF should not have opened fire so carelessly knowing that villagers were present, and sexual assault is certainly not part of any ‘encounter’,” says a statement from historian Ramchandra Guha, Professor Nandini Sundar of the Department of Sociology (Delhi University) and retired bureaucrat and civil rights activist EAS Sarma, who were all petitioners against the Salwa Judum in a case upheld by the SC.
Instead of heeding the SC’s directions, the Chhattisgarh and Centre, they alleged, have consciously chosen to step up paramilitary operations, retain special police officers under the new name of Armed Auxiliary Force, and have continued to violate human rights on a large scale. Meanwhile, Justice Rajinder Sachar, Brahmadev Sharma, Swami Agnivesh and Himanshu Kumar have called last week’s onslaught “cold-blooded massacre.” They said, “The fact that this unprovoked mass killing took place under the joint operation command directly under the Union home minister P Chidambaram and Raman Singh, Chhattisgarh chief minister, and carried out by 300 central Reserve Police Force as well as the Combined Battalion for Resolute Action makes this diabolic mass killing the most sinister ever.”
Sachar and Agnivesh drew support from an inquiry by a local Congress MLA, Kawasi Lakma, who has openly denounced the killings after visiting the scene of the crime. This report has been upheld by Ajit Jogi (ex-CM of Chhattisgarh), Charan Das Mahant, Union MoS for agriculture and Nan Kumar Patel, the state Congress party President, say the activists, who have demanded a public apology from the Prime Minister to adivasi community. The activists have also demanded the suspension of the CRPF and COBRA jawans as well as the registration of murder charges against them. They also believe that stringent constitutional action should be taken against CM Raman Singh.