In a grave insult to the 14 men who died in an ambush by Naxals in Chhattisgarh on Monday, the uniforms of the deceased were found with garbage outside the hospital, where the post-mortem was conducted. The incident is sure to leave many in Chief Minister Raman Singh's government red-faced.
Reacting to the situation, Union Minister of Home Affairs, Rajnath Singh, has asked the Chhattisgarh CM to address the situation and punish the guilty.
The men who were killed while returning to their camp at a village after an operation in the deep forest region of Sukma were from the para-military Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF). In addition to those killed, 12 CRPF soldiers were injured.
The photos of the uniforms were taken by the man who saw them outside the mortuary at a government hospital in Raipur, the capital city of the state. Congress then reached the scene of action and took the uniforms to the party office, accusing the state government of having dishonouring the men who died in the line of duty, reports NDTV.
Sources in CRPF blamed the janitors at the government hospital for discarding the uniforms.
"Traditionally, CRPF hands over personal effects of the person in the battalion to their family and not their clothes as these are case property to be handled by civilian police. There is no lapse on the part of the CRPF in this matter. However, we are still holding an enquiry to check the details," said CRPF Inspector General, HS Sidhu, to NDTV.
The Congress is demanding an apology from the BJP government on the issue. "We rushed there (to the hospital) after learning that the uniforms of the slain CRPF men were lying in a dustbin filled with garbage near the mortuary where their autopsies took place," said Vikas Upadhyay, a Congress leader.
Assuring that the uniforms of the dead soldiers will be sent to their families, the top commanders of CRPF said that they urged the Congress to hand over the uniforms to them. Each of the soldiers will be cremated with full state honours in their home towns and villages. The bodies left Raipur on Tuesday immediately after a state funeral ceremony.