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INDIAN Communists demanded a high-level judicial probe into the killing of at least 39 people in government clashes last week.
Communist Party of India (Marxist) spokeswoman Brinda Karat today challenged the official version of the incidents which took place in the Gadchiroli region of Maharashtra on April 22 and 23.
The Indian government claimed forces engaged in a “fierce encounter” with Naxalite Maoist insurgents on April 22, in a four-hour fight in which an unspecified number were killed. The following day India’s C-60 special forces claimed to have killed at least 12 Maoist commanders in a “successful ambush.”
Authorities have found 39 bodies so far, at least 19 of which are women. Post-mortem reports state that some of the deaths were due to “multi-organ failure due to bullet injuries and some due to drowning."
Ms Karat questioned government claims that all of those killed were Maoists, with eight young people from the village of Gallepalli still missing after attending a wedding in a neighbouring village the day before the clashes.
One of those, sixteen-year-old Raasu Chacko Madavi, is known to have been killed after her sisters recognised her from police photographs.
The other bodies have decomposed and are unrecognisable so the families of those still missing have given their DNA to see if, as is expected, it matches with those killed.
Ms Karat warned of a brutal state repression against indigenous Adivasi people, accusing the government of “torture, illegal detention, police custody without trial, looting of tribal homes, burning of houses and shamefully, the rape of tribal women.”
Anti-Maoist operations are being used as a smokescreen for attacks on the Adivasi people who are uniting in resistance to the BJP government, Ms Karat warned.
“This is not to condone the extremist violence of the Maoists,” she said, with left forces often the target of their attacks.
“Almost 200 CPI(M) cadres, including Adivasi activists, have been killed by the Maoists, mainly in Bengal,” she added.
Ms Karat charged that police reports showing more bodies were found than weapons could indicate that many of those killed were unarmed.
“This makes it all the more urgent to have a high-level judicial probe into the entire incident.
“Even as more shocking details emerge as to what actually happened, the families of Gallepalli mourn the deaths of their innocent children,” she said.
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