For the first time after last week's encounters with alleged Maoists in Chhattisgarh, security officials accepted that they have not ruled out the possibility of minimal 'collateral damage' in the firing because Maoists often use innocent villagers as human shields.
"If there was some collateral damage and the local administration is able to identify innocent villagers who may have died in the firing, the government can think of giving compensation also," said a security official on the condition of anonymity.
So far, the authorities have been able to identify only seven persons with criminal records, out of the 19 people who were killed in the encounter.
The CRPF has maintained that the encounter was a genuine chance encounter.
"A contingent of 800 personnel from the CRPF, CoBRA commandos and the local police was on the move in the area looking for a military company (consisting of around 60 to 70 Maoists). Intelligence inputs suggested that they were coming to Bijapur area from Andhra Pradesh for some big action.
"The Maoist military company had not moved from Andhra for the last two years. All this is a matter of record and our movement leaves digital footprints that are easily verifiable. The CRPF headquarter here was knew about the movement," said an official on the condition of anonymity.
According to sources, the security personnel only retaliated when the Maoists opened fire on them.
"We retaliated only after two of our personnel suffered bullet injuries. At dawn, when we went there, 16 bodies were recovered and an injured person was found. He died later. In fact, there were two encounters that took place that night, around 25 km away from each other. One in Penta and another in Basaguda area. Our patrolling had started from three sides. We were looking for a training camp of Maoists ... Two persons died in Penta and 17 in Basaguda," said the official.
According to security sources, local intelligence had suggested that at least four persons from the Maoist military company also died in the Basaguda encounter.
Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday to discuss the issue.