Meeting of Maoist-hit states next week

Meeting of Maoist-hit states next week

A day after Union Home Minister P Chidambaram virtually acknowledged killing of innocent children in the Chattisgarh encounter, his ministry has convened a meeting of the nine naxal-affected states next week to stitch together a standard operating procedure to avoid civilian casualty during encounters.

The meeting between MHA officials, director general of police of the states and paramilitary forces, mainly CRPF, deployed in the counter-insurgency operations, has been fixed on July 13, said ministry sources.

Last week’s operation conducted jointly by the state police and CRPF, in which 19 suspected Maoists were killed in the Bijapur area of Chattisgarh, has sparked a controversy as the commandos were accused of killing innocent children and villagers.

In the meeting, the forces will be told to be vigilant when human shields are intentionally used by the naxals, a tactic which has been widely used in insurgency-prone areas since it is difficult to differentiate sympathisers from actual rebels at the face value.

The Ministry is likely to tell the paramilitary forces and police to stop assault even if they “suspect” civilian presence among the naxals. A tactical change will also be contemplated. The areas will be illuminated adequately and extensive use of night vision devises will be advocated while launching an operation at night.

The CRPF officials, however, continued to claim that the encounter was genuine as forensic reports indicated that security personnel were attacked by rebels, forcing them to open fire in retaliation.

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