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Maoists’ killing becomes controversial

The killing of 19 Maoists in Chhattisgarh has become controversial amid questions whether the victims were all Naxalites or not and Chief Minister Raman Singh saying on Monday that the rebels were using tribal population as 'human shields'.

Singh and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) defended the encounter, while the social activist Swami Agnivesh condemned the incident, claiming that innocent tribals lost their lives and called it a 'cold-blooded murder'. The incident was the most brutal since the independence, Agnivesh said.

A group of activists led by Justice Rajinder Sachar and Agnivesh demanded a judicial inquiry into the encounter. At a press conference in New Delhi, the former Delhi high court chief justice Sachar said that they were demanding a judicial enquiry into the incident as they had no faith in the Central Bureau of Investigation or a magisterial inquiry. His views were echoed by other activists like Agnivesh, B D Sharma and Himanshu Kumar.

They said a delegation will soon meet President Pratibha Patil and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) demanded a time-bound judicial inquiry into last week's killing by the CRPF and the state police, which included the killing of a woman and two children, alleging they were either brutally axed to death or killed in 'indiscriminate firing'.

However, the CRPF director general K Vijay Kumar said that his force, deep inside the jungles of Silger in Bijapur district, drew the first fire in the night and his men retaliated according to the laid down Standard Operating Procedures. He said, 'You will have to see the facts … where is the area where this incident happened, which is the force that went into the operation ... the CRPF went in along with local police into an area which is considered liberated. It is our legitimate duty to go there. We drew the first fire. What exactly happened can be asceratined by the forensics...'

With his government coming under attack from the opposition Congress over the incident, Singh said that if any innocent person was killed or injured, then the Naxalites must be held responsible for it, as they often used innocent villagers as back-up for themselves during gunfight. He said that the Congress should not politicise the matter. The Congress alleged that the incident was a 'completely fake encounter' and that the victims were 'innocent Adivasis'.
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