Sunday, August 5, 2012

Editorial, "Police atrocities in political wilderness," in LAW ANIMATED WORLD, 15 July 2012, Vol. 8, Part 2, No. 13 issue.


 The indirect ‘spat’ between Kishore Chandra Dev, Union Tribal Minister,  and the Union Home Minister, P. Chidambaram, has laid bare the hollowness of the official claims that the 29 June 2012 raid on suspected Maoists in Bijapur district of Chattisgarh was a real encounter between armed Maoists and the CRPF and State Police. Of course, the Police insist that Maoists use people of the region as human shields while confronting the security forces and hence innocent people also do or may suffer in the process, but there are some salient norms to be followed in armed conflicts when innocent or ignorant people are used in such a manner. Reckless or ‘panicky’ firing responses are not called for in such eventualities even if the first shots may be from the rebel groups. If the police had information that Maoists are holding a meeting in a village, they should have been amply forewarned that many innocent villagers would participate in it, especially in an area claimed and unofficially recognized as a Maoist liberated area. Contrary to the claims of the Director General of CRPF that the police conducted themselves with extreme restraint and the backing by Mr. Raman, Chief Minister of Chattisgarh, that it was a real encounter in which people could have suffered due to the human shield tactics of the Maoists, we find the firing being wild and jumpy with even women and children killed in its course. Though Kishore Chandra Dev has tried to downplay their internal differences saying he acted according to ‘the inputs he got’ and the Home Minister as per ‘information he got’, the conduct of the Home Minister is hasty, cold and totally unjustified. The callousness of the bureaucracy in the entire affair is truly revolting. And we do agree with Swami Agnivesh that the Prime Minister should rise to the occasion and apologize – at least for the deaths of innocent women and children and duly compensate them. The Judicial enquiry ordered may bring out the real facts and reasons for this gory killing but there is urgent need to curb the ‘panic reflexes’ and ‘trigger happiness’ of the police forces also. Finally, this acute armed conflict should be viewed more as a socio-economic problem to be solved than a mere law and order or security concern to be overcome by the use of superior armed force §§§

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