Ranchi, Jan. 9: The bodies of three CRPF jawans, each shockingly tied with explosives similar to one discovered yesterday, were recovered from Latehar today, taking the official toll of security personnel and civilians killed during the encounter with Maoists to 13.
Apart from the deceased jawans, the body of a villager tied with an improvised explosive device (IED) by the rebels was also recovered from Amuatikar forest, 40km from the district headquarters under Barwadih police station in Latehar.
Police spokesperson and IG (operations) S.N. Pradhan, who visited the encounter site this morning with CRPF DG Pranay Sahay, expressed disgust over the way the dead bodies were used as IEDs.
"Maoists have no respect for basic human rights, which is honoured even during wars. They cross all limits of rights violation. When we kill their men, we hand over the bodies to their close relatives of the deceased but the Maoists converted the bodies of our jawans into bombs and tried to leave no opportunity for last rites. I will like to draw the attention to human rights activists who always blame security personnel for violations and agitate over simple instances," he said.
The gun battle between Maoists and security forces over two days ended yesterday. Yesterday, police had said that IED on the body of one jawan had led to the death of an innocent villager and injured two others.
Today, the jawans took extra precaution while taking possession of the four bodies. A bomb disposal squad was pressed into service and the bodies were sent for post-mortem when the explosives were defused three hours later.
The police are yet to ascertain their identities.
"The bodies were spotted around 12.15pm, but it took three hours to defuse the bombs," said Pradhan.
He pointed out that two mutilated bodies of CRPF jawans were recovered late yesterday after the bombs that had been similarly fitted had exploded.
Although unconfirmed reports said 22 CRPF jawans were killed till yesterday, Pradhan estimated that with the recovery of the four bodies today, the toll had reached 13 ' 10 jawans and three civilians.
On Maoist presence in the forest areas, he said, "Yes, some rebels are still there and they tried to disturb us by opening fire when we were recovering the bodies."
He however claimed that the security forces deployed in Latehar were in control of the situation.
Saranda on alert
Intelligence inputs suggesting a Maoist squad had sneaked into Saranda from Odhisha's Sundergarh have put the West Singhbhum police on high alert. The squad is said to have entered the sal reserve last night, taking advantage of dense fog cover.
West Singhbhum SP Pankaj Kamboj said all police stations, thana outposts and paramilitary posts have been put on high alert.