Chhattisgarh has notorious record of tribal killings: Minister
New Delhi, July 3 (IANS) As controversy rages over security forces killing people in an anti-Maoist operation in Chhattisgarh some days back, Union Tribal Affairs Minister V. Kishore Chandra Deo said the state has a notorious record in this regard.
"Chhattisgarh has a very notorious record of a programme called Salwa Judum which they had. I had opposed it at that time. Both extremist and government forces were using poor young tribals for killing each other," Deo said Tuesday.
Talking to news channel NDTV, Deo said the manner in which villagers were killed, as it appeared, was wrong and sought a report on the encounter.
"We're trying to gather facts. What worries me most is the manner in which tribals have been dealt with, whether by security forces, or by the extremists," he said.
"Several tribals, including women and children, have been losing lives. One's heart really bleeds to see such things happening," he said.
The minister also said that even if the villagers were being used as human shields by the Maoists, it did not give the security forces the right to open fire.
"Using women and children as human shield is something unpardonable. Yet, it is also no excuse for opening fire at women and children. They should have been tackled in more discreet manner. I certainly do not approve of that," he said.
The controversy erupted over the killing of 19 people, whom rights activists said were innocent villagers, in an encounter in the jungles of Dantewada in intervening night of June 27-28.
The operation by over 300 CRPF and state police personnel has left questions whether all the victims were Maoist guerrillas.
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