RAIPUR: Two days after a Doordarshan cameraman was killed in a Maoist ambush in Dantewada, south Chhattisgarh, the rebels issued a Press statement claiming that they were unaware the three-member DD team doing poll coverage was moving with security forces.
In a handwritten press release issued by Sainath, secretary of the Darbha Divisional Committee of CPI (Maoist), the Naxals expressed regret over the killing of cameraman Achyutanand Sahoo, and said: “We intentionally don’t kill media persons. He was killed in an indiscriminate exchange of fire after being trapped in an ambush. Journalists are not our enemies”, read the statement issued by the Maoists.
They also advised media persons and election staff not to venture into the conflict zone with police forces.
The DD team, accompanied by the troopers, who were out on a routine anti-Maoist operation in around half-a-dozen motorcycles, came under the rebels' attack in the forested terrain of Nilawaya in Dantewada on Tuesday, about 450 km south of Raipur. Two policemen were also killed in the ambush. The two other members of the DD team escaped the attack.
However Chhattisgarh police maintained that the attack targeted the media.
“After killing innocents, the Maoists always issue statements expressing regret or admit their mistake. But the attack was intentional and targeted the fourth pillar of democracy. It’s ironic that a week ago they assured the media that they could cover (the polls) from anywhere in the remote Bastar region without fear, but later they ambushed the media”, said Ratanlal Dangi, deputy inspector general of police, Dantewada.
The DD team from Delhi was in Dantewada for election coverage. The first phase of elections covering 12 constituencies in Bastar zone and six seats in Rajnandgaon district will be held on November 12.