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27 Nov 2009

Peoples Union for Democratic Rights unequivocally denounces the November 20th incident in which eight bogies of the Tata-Bilaspur passenger train were derailed, near Manoharpur railway station in West Singhbhum district of Jharkhand, by the armed cadres of CPI (Maoist), and two persons, including a two year old, died and 51 were injured.

The derailment, allegedly using detonators, was caused in the course of a two day bandh on November 19-20th when, according to local Maoist leaders, they were demanding that one of their arrested leaders be produced in the Court. According to Samarji, secretary Bihar-Jharkahnd –Orissa regional committee of the CPI(Maoist), said that the “mistake” occurred because of “overzealous new recruits”. PUDR has time and again pointed out that political formations which offer armed resistance can not evade their responsibility for causing civilian casualties. These are not collateral damage, intended or unintended, in contexts such as above where a passenger train was targeted. It instead suggests reckless act by a poorly disciplined force.

While we appreciate that, in contrast to earlier times, the party apologised the very same day. However, we remain concerned that such “mistakes” continue to occur, a little too frequently. Such acts are considered unacceptable under Geneva Convention and other humanitarian laws which govern war/armed conflict. Ensuring that non-combatants/civilians are not harmed through such acts requires that the party commit itself to abide by principles which govern such conflicts and thus bringing the personnel responsible for such crimes to justice.

We wish to point out that issues of legality of ethical principles underlying Geneva Convention and Protocol cannot be made an excuse to deny that these principles which govern war/armed conflict, can be complied with and implemented, by all warring sides for their own combat personnel. We, urge the CPI(Maoist) party to declare its adherence to Geneva Convention and other international laws if it wants Indian public to take seriously their claim to be a political formation guided by highest concern for the people.

Moushumi Basu and Gautam Navlakha
(secretaries PUDR)

[email protected]