Dr. Lakhan Singh, President
Advocate Sudha Bharadwaj, General Secretary
Note: On 24th April, 2017, 25 jawans of the CRPF were killed in an ambush carried out by Maoists in Burkapal area of Sukma district in Chhattisgarh. PUCL Chhattisgarh state unit issued a Press Statement soon after news broke out about the massacre condemning the ruthlessness with which the ambush was carried out. Despite this, Mr. Venkiah Naidu, Union Minister condemned human rights groups for not saying anything about the ambush. PUCL National President, Mr. Ravi Kiran Jain and former PUCL National President, Rajinder Sachar issued separate statements pointing out to the inaccuracy of Mr. Venkiah Naidu’s statement and demanding an apology from him. Of course, no such apology actually gets expressed even when such persons get to know about the baselessness of their statements. The jingoism that has taken over much of our media reporting is exposed by the fact that on many occasions, numerous statements made by human rights organisations like PUCL do not get published by Mainstream media. We publish below the statement issued by PUCL Chhattisgarh as also the responses of Mr. Rajindar Sachar and Mr. Ravi Kiran Jain.
The Chhattisgarh PUCL severely condemns the ruthless ambush carried out by Maoists at the Burkapal area under Police Station Chintagufa limits in district Sukma on 24th April 2017, and expresses its deep grief at the killing of 25 jawans, mostly young persons of poor families. According to initial reports, this attack, the most lethal of its kind in five years, took place when around 90 jawans of the 74th Battalion were engaged in a road opening operation. It appears that about 200 Naxalites dispersed in different groups conducted the ambush and in the continuous firing that took place for about an hour many of them might also have been killed. The Maoists decamped with all arms and ammunitions of the 25 killed and 6 injured jawans, leaving no bodies behind. A month ago another attack of the Maoists using locally made mortars, tiffin bombs and arrows with explosives had killed 12 CRPF Personnel under PS Bhejji limits. There have thus been more casualties in the first four months of this year than in the entire year for the last four years. This incident shows that the large numbers of surrenders and arrests (many of them challenged by villagers) boasted by the Chhattisgarh police in the past few years have not led to a significant decline in the military capacity of the Naxalites. A situation of civil war still prevails in Bastar although the Government of India refuses to declare this an “internal armed conflict” to avoid monitoring by the United Nations. The PUCL apprehends that soon the security forces would “retaliate” by “search and Cordon operations” in the area which are only likely to hurt the soft target of ordinary civilians. Consequent arrests, beatings and killings will only intensify the cycles of violence and counter-violence.
PUCL reiterates its longstanding demands that de-escalation of violence requires the restoration of faith of the local adivasi people in the State through the strict implementation of pro-tribal laws like the PESA, Forest Rights Act; the better provision of health, education and other welfare activities; a perception of getting justice and dignity; the restoration of civil administration as opposed to administration by the security forces in the interior areas; and addressing of popular demands as voiced by Sarv Adivasi Samaj or other local tribal organizations, in other words a political solution.