HM backs CRPF in Chhattisgarh encounter case

New Delhi: Amid controversy over the anti- Naxal operation in Chhattisgarh, Home Minister P Chidambaram today said CRPF`s role in the encounter was "transparent" and "upfront" but he was "deeply sorry" if any innocent person has been killed. He also said that it is up to the state government to take a call on whether or not it has to initiate any inquiry into the June 27 operation "conducted under state police" direction.

"CRPF DG has said he has nothing to hide, nothing to fear..I do not think any central force has been so transparent…I am not going into the political controversies. I am the Home Minister and the CRPF is under me. We have been absolutely candid, frank and upfront," Chidambaram told reporters on the sidelines of a Cabinet briefing here. The incident has led to an uproar and raised questions over the genuineness of the encounter. Union Tribal Affairs Minister V Kishore Chandra Deo yesterday called the offensive "completely unacceptable" and targeted the state`s BJP government.

"The encounter for some reason is being called a fake encounter. Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh spoke to me. As far as any enquiry is concerned, it`s a call he has to take," Chidambaram said. He said, "If any innocent person has been killed. I am deeply sorry…if any girl, or boy or man or woman not involved with the Maoists at all has been killed, I can only be deeply sorry…I share Deo`s sense of sadness and anguish at the loss of lives."

He also quoted the CRPF DG as saying that if in the dark in the jungle, if CRPF is facing casualty, the Standard Operating Procedure requires it to open fire. Chidambaram said that most of the persons killed in the encounter were adults with the youngest being 15-year-old and "at least three of them have been identified as having a criminal record. He also pointed out that six jawans were also injured into the firing.