New Delhi: Striking a different note from the Government on last week`s anti-naxal operation in Chhattisgarh that left 19 tribals killed, Congress on Wednesday blamed the BJP-ruled state for the "botch-up", saying it has resulted in the loss of lives of innocent tribals and minors.
Asked about Home Minister P Chidambaram lauding CRPF for its "transparent" and "upfront" attitude over the issue and saying that those killed included naxals, AICC general secretary in-charge for the state B K Hariprasad said the Minister was merely reading the report given to him by the Chhatttisgarh government.
"Whatever our Home Minister is saying is according to the report given by the Chhattisgarh government.... I do not agree with the report given by the Chhattisgarh government," Hariprasad said in response to a volley of questions on an apparent disconnect between party`s position with that of Chidambaram on the issue.
Contradicting the state government, the Chhattisgarh PCC has said that it was a "completely fake encounter".
Chidambaram, who had last week said that three important Naxal leaders-- Somulu, Nagesh and Mahesh---were killed in the gunbattle, today said his statement was based on the report of the CRPF, which is under his charge and that the force has been very "transparent" and "upfront" on the issue.
The Home Minister also said that all those killed in the encounter were adult barring one, who was 15 to 16 years old.
Hariprasad said the preliminary report of the Congress fact-finding team held that several "innocent people and minors" were also killed.
19 people were killed in a fierce gunfight in the dense jungles of Dantewada on June 27-28 in a joint anti-Naxal operation.
Sources in Congress said the preliminary report submitted by the 12-member team headed by a senior tribal MLA Kawasi Lakhma said among the the victims were seven minors who are 15 years old and below.
"Those killed also included minors...If children have been killed there should not be any pardon...In the name of tackling Maoists, innocent tribals should not be victimised," Hariprasad said.