The Chhattisgarh PUCL has come to know from police releases that 3 women including a 15 year old girl from Tumnar Village under Narayanpur police station have been killed in an explosion of IED device planted by Maoists. The Chhattisgarh PUCL expresses its deep grief at these killings. The Chhattisgarh PUCL condemns land mining by the Maoists which causes extreme hazard to life and limb of non combatant tribal villagers carrying out their normal life activities in the region. It reiterates its demand that in order to protect non-combatant civilians in this war zone, the Government of India should declare a state of internal armed conflict and allow strict independent monitoring under the Geneva Protocol of human rights violations by both parties to the conflict. Since there is also news that a jawan has been critically injured in an encounter with Maoists, thus the exact details of events have yet to be independently established.

Even earlier in the month of March 2016 the Chhattisgarh PUCL had issued a statement on the killing of a 55 year old woman Muchaki Hidme, resident of Village Gorkha, due to an IED blast on 18th March 2016. The incident had taken place on a ‘kuchha’ track used by the security forces during patrolling, near Kottacheru village under Bhejji police station limits according to then Sukma Superintendent of Police D Shrawan. A day earlier an 8 year old girl child Muchaki Anita, resident of Kanhaiguda village under Bhejji police station had also lost her life to an IED blast. Similarly two labourers were killed on 6th March at around 9:30 am at Amdai Ghati (valley) under Chhote Dongar police station limits. Superintendent of Police Narayanpur Abhishek Meena had told PTI that Maoists detonated a powerful IED when a joint team of district police and the Chhattisgarh Armed Force (CAF) was escorting a group of labourers through the valley and this was followed by a gun-battle, lasting for about two hours, after which the Maoists fled. On26th November 2013, the Chhattisgarh PUCL had written to the NHRC for directions to restrain the practice of using civilians for demining operations or as “police sahyogi” in land mined areas.

The Chhattisgarh PUCL takes exception to the manner in which Bastar IG Mr Kalluri has utilized the tragic incident of killing of 3 women in an IED blast by the Maoists to issue a threat “to legal aid groups, fact finding teams and so called human rights activists”. The PUCL has always had a clear policy that they do not support violence. However this does not mean that fact finding teams or human rights activists cannot enquire into incidents of encounters, sexual violence or arson particularly when alleged by villagers as atrocities by the security forces and confirmed by statutory institutions like the National Human Rights Commission, the Central Bureau of Investigation and the National SC ST Commission.

We are also disappointed that IG Mr Kalluri, despite being so active in Bastar, has given health reasons for not attending the hearing by the NHRC on 30th January 2017. The police must give adequate respect to statutory national human rights institutions, and abide their directions, not just in letter but also spirit.