The killing of a policeman taken hostage by Maoists will erode the credibility of the Naxals but the handling of the situation by the Nitish Kumar government is also questionable, feel social activists Medha Patkar and Swami Agnivesh.
"The Centre, state governments and Maoists are equally responsible for the reign of terror all over the country, but by killing one of the hostages mercilessly the Maoists will certainly lose credibility. They should not have resorted to this," Patkar said.
"What has happened in really unfortunate and no right thinking people will support this," she said.
Noting that Maoists had repeatedly offered talks, she said, "The government has never taken their offer seriously."
She also noted that it was alarming that the lower rung of the police and paramilitary forces had become vulnerable.
"It is alarming that the lower rung police and paramilitary personnel are becoming easy prey for Maoists and the government, both the Centre and the state, are leaving them at the mercy of the ultras," Patkar said.
"Unless there is a dialogue, this kind of violence is going to continue if the government continues to sit back and see the common people suffer," Patkar said.
Speaking in the same vein, Swami Agnivesh, who had mediated earlier between the Centre and Maoists said, "For the last four days Nitish Kumar has left the hostages at the mercy of the Maoists. This is callous."
He claimed that Kumar had promised on August 23 to issue a statement demanding an inquiry on the killing of Maoist leader Cherukiri Rajkumar alias Azad in an encounter in Andhra Pradesh in early July, but four days later he allegedly made a volte face saying that he could not do anything alone because other states were also involved.
Told that the Nitish Kumar government had always spoken about going to the root of the Maoist problem, Agnivesh retorted, "If the Bihar government was keen to have a dialogue with the Maoists, why did the chief minister send police and paramilitary forces after them?
"Nitish Kumar has been extremely callous in handling the situation and is fully responsible for what has happened," he held.
He said, if the three other policemen were also killed "their blood will be on the hands of Nitish Kumar for his indecisiveness."
Human rights activist Sujato Bhadra said, "Killing hostages are a gross violation of human rights and the Maoists should release the others immediately.
"Taking hostages and putting pressure on the government for the release of political prisoners is an old practice, but to kill unarmed hostages is really unfortunate."