India: Maoists Armed Group Must Release Hostages

Press Release
February 4, 2011

India: Maoists Armed Group Must Release Hostages

Amnesty International Calls on Maoist Armed Group in India to Release Hostages

Friday, February 4, 2011

Contact: AIUSA media relations office, 202-509-8194

(Washington, DC) The Communist Party of India (Maoist), an armed opposition group, must immediately release a civilian and five officers of the Chhattisgarh state armed police force whom they have been holding as hostages since January 25 and must ensure their safety and well-being as long as they detain them, Amnesty International said.

The five police officers – Ramadhar Patel, Raghunandan Dhruv, T Ekka, and two constables Ranjan Dubey and Manishankar – and the civilian were traveling in a civilian transport bus at the time of their abduction at Kungera village. They were traveling from Dhanora post to Narayanpur town.

The Maoists, in a communication to the media issued by their East Bastar committee, have demanded that the authorities should stop plans to establish a new training centre on jungle warfare in Chhattisgarh to be run by India’s armed forces. The state authorities recently allotted 310 square miles in Abhujmaad, a dense forest believed to be partly under Maoist control.

The Maoists believe that this move could be the first step towards "eventual deployment" of the armed forces in the operations against them. The authorities maintain that the army’s plans are limited to training purposes and would not extend to combat operations.

The taking of hostages is prohibited by international law. It is contrary to fundamental principles of humanity, as reflected in international humanitarian law, to seize or detain anyone and threaten to kill or harm them if the authorities do not comply with the hostage-takers’ demands.

Amnesty International urges Maoists to stop threatening to kill or harm these police officers and guarantee their lives and safety.

According to latest reports, there have been attempts through informal channels to secure the release of the abducted police officers.

For the last five years, Chhattisgarh has witnessed operations by the state police, the central paramilitary forces and the Salwa Judum, a private militia widely held to be state-sponsored, against the armed Maoists who claim to be fighting on behalf of adivasi (indigenous) communities. Both sides have routinely targeted civilians and indulged in unlawful killings and abductions.

In the latest instance, the Maoists had abducted, on September 19, 2010, eight police officers in the forest areas on the state’s border with Andhra Pradesh demanding that the authorities halt ongoing operations against them and stop targeting of adivasi villagers and release those arrested on charges of having supported Maoists. The Maoists then killed three of the abducted policemen before releasing the others.

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.

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For more information, please visit: www.amnestyusa.org.