The Communist Party of India (Maoist), an armed Opposition group, must immediately stop holding as hostage the three remaining policemen it abducted in Lakhisarai district in Bihar five days ago, and must ensure their safety and well-being as long as they detain them, Amnesty International said.

In a statement, Amnesty said “taking hostages is prohibited by international law. It is contrary to fundamental principles of humanity, as reflected in international humanitarian law, to seize or detain anyone and threaten to kill or harm them if the government does not comply with the hostage-takers' demands. The CPI (Maoist) must stop threatening to kill or harm these police officers and guarantee their lives and safety.”

Lukas Tete, Mohammad Ehsaan, Rupesh Kumar Sinha and Abhay Prasad Yadav were taken hostage on August 29 after Maoists attacked a police search party and killed seven other police personnel in a gun battle. The deadline set by Maoists for their release expired on September 1 and Tete was killed. Even as the Bihar government offered to hold talks with the Maoists on the issue, on September 3, a Maoist spokesperson claimed that the kidnappers had killed Abhay Prasad Yadav, but his body had not been found so far.

Meanwhile, human rights activist G.N. Saibaba, in a statement, said: “The killing of Lukas Tete is regrettable. Killing the people after taking them into custody is a pattern followed by the Indian state as is [seen] in the case of Azad and Hem Pandey, but is uncharacteristic of and unexpected from revolutionaries. It is imperative for the CPI (Maoist) to immediately release the remaining police personnel in their custody, as a gesture of their goodwill and for the Indian government to respond by initiating talks with the CPI (Maoist) genuinely and seriously.”

Vedanta issue

By another statement, Amnesty asked the Indian authorities to order an independent investigation into the police crackdown on retrenched contract workers at the Vedanta Aluminium refinery at Lanjigarh in which at least 25 contract workers were injured and several others detained.

Expressing concern over the reports of unnecessary or excessive use of force by the police on the protesting workers, Amnesty said the crackdown on the night of August 31 followed protests against the retrenchment of more than 3,500 contract workers. Those retrenched worked for engineering and construction firms that were working on expansion of the refinery. The retrenchments came in the wake of a decision by the Ministry of Environment and Forests to suspend refinery expansion and reject plans to mine bauxite at the nearby Niyamgiri Hills. The Ministry had termed the expansion work already carried out illegal.

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