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CIMA Gallary

Rebels own belly bomb

Latehar (Jharkhand), Jan. 21: The Maoists today admitted they had booby-trapped a slain CRPF jawan’s body with a belly bomb after an encounter here this month and that the idea was “to inflict more damage” on the security forces.

They threatened to repeat the ploy, believed to be a first in India, if the forces did not stop “atrocities on poor people and those resisting them”.

The admission came following widespread criticism of the ploy by the government as well as civil society and rights groups, who saw it as a violation of international war norms.

“We have no problem admitting that our PLGA (People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army) had planted a time bomb in the abdomen of the dead government force member,” CPI (Maoist) military spokesperson Toofan said in a Hindi statement.

“We will not miss any opportunity to target them again and will use every way to harm them further.’’

In an earlier audio message to the media after the January 7-9 encounters, Toofan had accused the forces of laying booby traps around the villages but been silent about the belly bomb.

Nine CRPF troopers and a Jharkhand Jaguar jawan were killed in the three-day battle. Apparently, the rebels also placed an injured jawan on a mine and four villagers died in a blast while removing him on the security forces’ orders.

Security experts had defused the belly bomb at a Ranchi hospital after doctors conducting the post-mortem became suspicious on examining the stitch the Maoists had put on the corpse’s abdomen after stuffing it with explosives. Officers have said the belly bomb could have killed the doctors and other innocents, a fear the rights bodies too had echoed.

Today’s statement by Toofan denied that the bomb was meant to kill the doctors and accused the government of trying to turn doctors against the Maoists. He said the bomb had been timed to explode at the spot itself or while the body was being retrieved, but the timer did not work because water had seeped into the body.

The statement said: “Those accusing us of dishonouring the dead must answer what the government forces do with the dead Maoists in their custody. They do not have any regard even for innocent civilians.”

It claimed the rebels had never ill-treated any security force personnel they had “captured alive”.