Maoists claim Chhattisgarh ambush, say media was not target
Taking responsibility for the Chhattisgarh ambush which left four dead, Maoists have expressed grief over the killing of a Doordarshan cameraman and said he was not their target.
The admission came in a two-page statement, dated October 31, issued in the name of Sainath, Secretary of the outlawed Communist Party of India (Maoist) Darbha Divisional Committee.
The October 30 ambush in Dantewada district killed three security personnel and cameraman Achyuta Nanda Sahu.
The Maoist statement in Hindi said their intention was to target the police and not the media because "journalists are our friends, not enemies".
The Maoists urged "media persons and other administrative employees, especially those on election duty, not to come with police while visiting the conflict zones".
"It is a matter of grief that Achyuta Nanda Sahu died in the ambush near Nilawaya village. The ambush was against the policemen who have been harassing and beating villagers opposing the construction of a road between Aranpur and Burgum.
"We will not kill journalists intentionally. The Chief Minister and police are spreading lies after the incident.
"This is being done to defame our party. Journalists are not our enemy, they are our friends," said the statement.
The statement said the Maoists were unaware of the presence of a Doordarshan crew along with the police.
The statement again urged people to boycott the upcoming Assembly polls.
Dantewada is among the Maoist-affected areas where the first phase of Assembly polls is to take place on November 12.
Special Director General of Police D.M. Awasthi told IANS that the authenticity of the statement was being checked.
"If Naxals (Maoists) did not want to attack media persons, why did they open fire on Sahu who was holding a camera? Later, they even looted his camera. Besides, two other members of the media crew were attacked," Awasthi said.
He said that the road opposed by the Maoists was being built for the benefit of villagers.
Besides Sahu, Assistant Sub-Inspector Rudra Pratap Singh and Constables Mangal Ram and Rakesh Kaushal were killed in the ambush.