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Activists slam Maoist ‘body bombs’

Calcutta, Jan. 11: Leading human rights activists across the country have condemned Maoists for planting bombs inside bodies of slain CRPF jawans in Latehar district and renewed appeals to both the government and the rebels to stop the “spiralling competitive violence”.

Activists, who opposed “the disrespect shown to the dead”, have urged peace talks to stem the brutality.

Though the CPI(Maoist) is yet to own up to using CRPF bodies as sites for bombs or condemn the practice, its leadership had earlier justified such a booby-trap.

But leading lights of civil rights movements such as Binayak Sen, public health expert and Raipur-based vice-president of Peoples’ Union for Civil Liberties, have deplored “using the dead to cause more casualties”.

Gautam Navlakha, Delhi-based writer associated with Peoples’ Union for Democratic Rights, said: “The Geneva Convention makes it clear that no side in an armed conflict can mutilate a dead combatant’s body. It is an imperative for a political movement taking a higher moral ground against the government and its forces. They must practise higher morality in conducting their war.”

“It is a terrorist act unbecoming for any party that calls itself revolutionary. Maoists must either own up or denounce it,” Delhi-based Swami Agnivesh said, adding that armed insurgents in the Northeast had practised booby-trapping of corpses of fallen adversaries.

“But the way explosives were sewn into the belly of the slain CRPF jawan is unheard off. It could have killed many innocents in Ranchi hospital if not deactivated. Maoists must come clear if they claim that someone else did it to defame them,” Agnivesh said.

However, he also blamed the CRPF for the death of villagers who were “forced” to lift the body booby-traps.

Calcutta’s Sujato Bhadra pointed out the excesses of the paramilitary forces.

He mentioned the killing of 21 tribals, including children and women, in Chhattisgarh’s Bijapur in June 2012 during an anti-Maoist raid.

Bhadra also reminded people that Calcutta High Court had slammed the CRPF for tying dead Maoists to bamboo poles to carry them as trophies and strike terror after a gun battle in Jungle Mahal, Bengal.

“Both the sides have shown complete disregard to humanitarian values as well as laws. The disrespect to dead is unacceptable. Competitive violence will brutalise the society further,” Bhadra said.

While Navlakha and others felt war crimes by government forces and Maoists should not be condoned, they also said they wanted to mobilise public opinion to ponder over the causes.

Activists also rooted for dialogue between tribals, Maoists and the mainstream.

With Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and finance minister Chidambaram “rooting for foreign direct investment in mining and displacing the tribals, we should not miss the woods for the trees,” ran their message as they unanimously called for joint peace talks.