The Maoists have apologised for the deaths of the 15 civilians who died when they blew up a bus in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district on Monday.
“We had only intended to kill the special police officers travelling on the bus,” Ramanna (he uses only one name), secretary of the Maoists’ South Bastar area committee, told a local television channel on Tuesday, admitting that the attack “was a mistake”.
“We’ll meet relatives of the killed villagers and do whatever we can to arrange compensation for them,” he said, adding the idea was to avenge the killings of two Maoists by the Dantewada police on Sunday.
Police and intelligence officers probing the attack have concluded the Maoists had very little time to plan the attack.
The blast took place within 15 minutes of the policemen boarding the bus; so, this was all the lead-time they had.
And this lack of time, and the resultant haste, was what prevented the local unit of the Maoists, which planned and executed the attack, from differentiating between friend and foe.
In 2005, the Maoists had killed five locals travelling in a couple of private jeeps. This had caused tremendous resentment among the local population. Since then, they have avoided targeting innocent villagers.
“Such decisions are contrary to the principles of guerilla warfare, where rebels are keen not to hurt civilians,” said
Brigadier B.K. Ponwar, director, Counter-Terrorism & Jungle Warfare College in Kanker, Chhattisgarh.
A senior police source said: “It was an act of desperation by the Maoists.” He, however, did not elaborate on why that might be the case.