What If They Were/Were Not Maoists?
The discourse on deaths in "encounters" with Maoists as in Chhattisgarh in June is usually framed in terms of whether or not the victims were Maoists. This is a wrong way of positing the issue. If the confl ict is dealt with as a law and order concern, then police fi ring is permissible only in self-defence. If it is seen as an armed confl ict, then under international conventions different rules apply, but the Government of India has refused to recognise the actions against the Maoists as part of an (non-international) armed confl ict.
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