Statements on Latehar Incident

January 16, 2013

Peoples’ Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR)

Press Statement

Date:15TH JAN 2013.

PUDR deplores the bestial deeds of the two warring sides in Latehar district of Jharkhand, during the early hours of Tuesday, 8th January 2013.

Mutilating the body of a dead is unacceptable under any circumstance. To do so in war on the body of a dead combatant is virtually considered taboo under laws that govern war/s. That the bodies were used to plant explosives which would have killed medical staff and those recovering bodies makes it doubly heinous. The use of civilians as human shields by the forces of the government is equally deplorable. The cowardly nature of this conduct where soldiers hide behind civilians is something that has been a common occurrence in Jammu and Kashmir and the North East.

In this instance, men, women, and children were drawn out of the villages to accompany security forces of the state in the pretext of search operation, which was in fact a gun-battle. One of the injured victims, Vijay Turi said, from his hospital bed that “Almost hundred of us, including many women and children went as search party from my village and from Navadih village. In fact, there were more women than men. We took children because we thought we will be safe from the police doing anything to us if we take them with us. Ten of us at the front and got injured the most from the blasts.” According to the reports of the local police, the entire Ambatikar village, near the Katiya forest where the battle occurred, was deserted at the approach of security forces.

The Government of India denies that any armed conflict is going on anywhere in India and yet has been most active prosecutor of war against our own people. This deniability when is read with laws that make resistance unlawful have made the conduct of war dastardly. Incidents such as these strengthen our apprehension that the war is turning attritional where engagements are becoming brutal. While we condemn both sides for their acts of war crimes PUDR unequivocally holds the Indian rulers responsible for prosecution of war. The Indian Prime Minister had told the editors of leading newspapers on April 10, 2010 that unless forests are rid of the Maoists/Naxalites and secured for inviting foreign direct investment into mining India’s growth story cannot be sustained. Clearing of Saranda forest in West Singhbhum district of Jharkhand has resulted in setting up of nineteen CRPF camps in such a manner that the area meant for mining have been ‘secured’.

However, CPI(Maoist) through such deeds does its own cause harm apart from weakening the resistance to Government’s growth obsessed and FDI
driven policies which is resulting in development of underdevelopment. Instead of occupying higher moral ground for their ‘people’s war’ Maoist combatants are showing propensity towards regression. We need to know from CPI (Maoist) if they accept the principle of command responsibility for this act? What action have they taken so far to find out who was responsible for this act which was not possible without some planning and preparation?

PUDR has for long demanded that the Indian State should give up waging war against our own people and to instead resolve disputes/problems through recourse to democratic methods. Until that happens and so long as war continues to be foisted on the people by the Indian State, we reiterate our demand that the Government of India and CPI (Maoist) adhere to the principles enshrined in Geneva Convention and Protocol, especially common Article 3. The do’s and don’ts oblige combatants from not harming the civilians, desist from maltreating prisoners of war, doing away with humiliation/mutilation of dead, and allow medical or rescue teams to perform their responsibilities etc. This would also involve allowing access to International Committee of Red Cross in order to breach the wall of impunity that prevails. Finally, PUDR also insists that India’s Civil Liberties and Democratic Rights groups be allowed access to the conflict zones to carry out their fact findings into instances of crimes committed by either side.

Asish Gupta
D. Manjit

Secretaries
PUDR.
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Statement on Maoist attack on CRPF in Latehar- Jharkhand

New Delhi 12 Jan, 2013

We are saddened at the death of the CRPF Jawans and 4 villagers in Latehar, Jharkhand. The Maoist implant of an explosive device in the body of a Jawan as well as laying an IED under another Jawan needs to be strongly condemned. Equally strongly, one needs to condemn the CRPF’s conscription of villagers as porters and human shields. Both practices are against the Geneva conventions.

The only lasting and long term solution to this is peace negotiations with the welfare of the ordinary citizen in mind. Arresting villagers on false charges and keeping them in jail for years together as has been shown by the recent acquittal of supreme court petitioner Kartam Joga and others after 2.5 years in jail, using villagers as human shields, fake encounters and forcible acquisition of land from villagers will not help bring about peace. Instead of strengthening laws against land alienation and forcible acquisition as required by the Fifth Schedule, the PMO is intent on destroying whatever little protection they have. The government has no qualms in spending crores on CRPF combing operations that terrorize villagers but wants to slash the tribal welfare budget. It is such attitudes which create government illegitimacy and encourage resistance.

The Maoists for their part must also understand that peace talks are in the best interest of the people they claim to represent. They must desist from activities that amount to war crimes like endangering the lives of civilians and medical personnel through explosives. They should treat soldiers’ corpses with the dignity they deserve. It is such activities which influence middle class support for genocide of adivasis and other vulnerable people, in the name of combating violence.

Nandini Sundar
Swami Agnivesh
Himanshu Kumar