Calcutta, Jan. 12: Human rights activists across the country have condemned the alleged booby-trapping of a CRPF jawan’s body by Maoists in Jharkhand.
They have also renewed their appeals to both the governments and the rebels to stop the “spiralling competitive violence and go for a peace dialogue”.
The CPI(Maoist) is yet to own up to the belly bomb. But its leadership had earlier justified such booby-traps.
The rights activists have said disrespect to the dead, by both “state and non-state forces”, cannot be condoned.
“The Geneva Convention makes it clear that no side in an armed conflict can mutilate a combatant’s body. Especially, it is an imperative for the political movement that is taking a higher moral ground against the government and its forces. They must practise higher morality in conducting their war,” said Gautam Navlakha, a Delhi-based writer and a leading light of the People’s Union for Democratic Rights.
Binayak Sen, the public health expert and Raipur-based vice-president of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties, said: “We always deplore violence and killings by both the state and non-state actors. The use of a body in order to cause more casualties is further deplorable.”
Swami Agnivesh termed the booby-trap a “terrorist act”. “It is a terrorist act unbecoming of any party that calls itself a revolutionary one. The Maoists should either own or denounce it,” he said.
Referring to the opinion of some security experts, he said armed insurgents in parts of the Northeast had earlier resorted to booby-trapping of bodies of fallen adversaries.
“But the way the explosives were sewn into the belly of the slain CRPF jawan is unheard of. It could have killed many innocent people in the Ranchi hospital if it was not deactivated on time. The Maoists must come clear if they claim that other forces did it to defame them,” Agnivesh said.
He also blamed the CRPF for the death of four villagers “who were forced to lift the booby-trapped bodies”.
Both Agnivesh and fellow activist Sujato Bhadra in Calcutta recalled the killing of 21 tribals, including children and women in Chhattisgarh’s Bijapur, during an anti-Maoist raid by the CRPF in June last year.
Bhadra also spoke of Calcutta High Court’s censure of the CRPF for tying dead Maoists to bamboo poles like hunted animals to carry them following a gunbattle in Bengal’s Jungle Mahal.
“Both sides have shown complete disregard to humanitarian values and laws. Disrespect to the dead is unacceptable. Competitive violence will brutalise the society further,” Bhadra said.
Dhiraj Sengupta, the secretary of the Calcutta-based Association for Protection of Democratic Rights did not refer to the Maoists but denounced the “use of dead body as a weapon of conflict by whoever did it for whatever purposes that be”.
He asked the Centre to immediately consider signing the optional protocols to the Geneva Convention of 1949 and accept the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty along with express commitment to the UN Resolution 1456 demanding observance of human rights in fighting what is questionably termed “terrorism”.
While Navlakha and others felt that “war crimes” by both government forces and Maoists should not be condoned, they wanted the public to ponder the “cause of the war”. “With Manmohan Singh and P. Chidambaram rooting for FDI in mining displacing tribals, we should not miss the wood for the trees,” Navlakha said.
Sen, Agnivesh and Bhadra stressed on the renewal of the peace initiative between the government and the Maoists.