India: Responses to the Maoist Attack on a Bus in Dantewada


People’s Union for Civil Liberties, 17 May 2010

PUCL strongly condemns the brutal killing of the innocent civilians traveling in a bus at Chingavaram on the Dantewada-Sukhma road in Chhattisgarh on 17 May 2010.

Killing of innocent civilians is the most heinous crime against the humanity and has no justification whatsoever.  PUCL feels that no objective could be desirable that is sought to be achieved at the cost of human lives and security.  As is evident from the past experience dialogue remains the most potent and viable means of lasting peace.

It is reported in the press that Home Minister has offered for talks with the CPI (Maoists), subject to cession of violence.  PUCL appeals to the good sense of the fighting parties to come to the negotiating table and resolve the outstanding issues through the process of a dialogue.

Pushkar Raj, General Secretary

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Asian Centre for Human Rights, 18 May 2010

New Delhi — “The dastardly attack on a civilian bus by the Maoists in Dantewada district in Chhattisgarh on 17 May 2010 killing at least 35 people including 24 civilians and 11 Special Police Officers (SPOs) is uncondonable,” stated Asian Centre for Human Rights in a press release today.  Several others injured when the Maoists blew up the civilian bus between Gadiras and Chingavaram in Dantewada district.

“Any attack on civilians by the Maoists cannot be condoned.  Such attacks on civilians violates international humanitarian law and constitute war crime under Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court,” stated Suhas Chakma, Director of the Asian Centre for Human Rights.

“This is not the first dastardly attack on civilians by the Maoists which is a clear violation of the Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions,” further stated Mr Chakma.

ACHR urged the Maoists not to attack civilians.  The ACHR also recommended that security forces should not travel on civilian buses as this increases the risk to the lives of the civilians.

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Human Rights Forum, 18 May 2010

The blasting of a private passenger bus near Chingavaram in Dantewada district of Chattisgarh on May 17 by the Maoists is a horrible incident.  The Human Rights Forum condemns it unreservedly.

Whatever the sins of the Chattisgarh and Central governments, it is inhuman on the part of Maoists to have lain in wait and blown up a private vehicle in which a large number of unarmed civilians were travelling.  According to reports, over 30 people, including 15 civilians have died in the blast.

We recall that the Maoists had fired upon a private jeep near RV Nagar in the Visakhapatnam Agency of AP on May 10.  Six adivasis, including a woman, sustained bullet injuries on that occasion.  Fortunately, there were no fatalities and all the injured are recovering.  The adivasis were returning from a weekly shandy when that incident took place.  There were a few policemen in the jeep, but the presence of a number of tribals should have been reason enough for the Maoists not to fire upon the vehicle and put the lives of civilians at risk.  That the Maoists still resorted to the firing reflects a callousness that is unacceptable.

HRF is of the view those who claim to struggle for the people must do so responsibly and with full accountability.  We demand that the Maoists desist from such inhuman acts.

S Jeevan Kumar (HRF president)
VS Krishna (HRF general secretary)

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Kishenji, qtd by Press Trust of India, The Hindu, 19 May 2010

On the Dantewada killings he [Kishenji] said “We are very sorry for death of the innocent people, but we request people not to travel with the police in the same vehicle.  Our fight is not with the people, but with the government”.

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Arundhati Roy, Outlook, 19 May 2010

Media reports say that the Maoists have deliberately targeted and killed civilians in Dantewara.  If this is true, it is absolutely inexcusable and cannot be justified on any count.  However, sections of the mainstream media have often been biased and incorrect in their reportage.  Some accounts suggest that apart from SPOs and police, the other passengers in the bus were mainly those who had applied to be recruited as SPOs.  We will have to wait for more information.  If there were indeed civilians in the bus, it is irresponsible of the government to expose them to harm in a war zone by allowing police and SPOs (carriers of the mantle of all the crimes of Salwa Judum) to use public transport.  Also, for a sense of perspective, let’s not forget that right at this moment, in Kalinganagar and Jagatsingpur in Orissa, hundreds of police are firing on unarmed people protesting the corporate takeover of their land.

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