NEW DELHI: On the day when the media was consumed by the operation in Myanmar,'#56inchesRocks' the killing of 12 "Maoists" including four children went completely under the radar.

On Monday afternoon in a joint operation CRPF and State police killed 12 alleged Maoists including four minors in Bhalawahi village in the Palamu District of Jharkhand. The authorities had reportedly received a tip-off from the "Jharkhand Jan Mukti Parishad " about the presence of the Maoists in the particular area.

When asked about the killing of children, DGP Pandey called the operation a "great success" and announced that "bullets don't differentiate". The authorities have since been justifying the killing of the children, insisting they were Maoists.

The incident has drawn criticism from different sections. The Jamia Teachers Solidarity Association condemned the attack on children, citing examples of earlier such encounters were minors were killed. The Associated demanded an independent inquiry in line with the Supreme Court guidelines regarding encounter killings that was issued last year.

Most news reports uncritically reproduce the police version of the events without any independent investigation, at least one newspaper quotes local sources as disputing the police version, citing the fact that the police did not sustain any injuries, and the bullet injuries on those killed were fired from a close range. The killing of innocent villagers in the name of anti-Maoist operations would not unfortunately be unprecedented. Evidence gathered by the Commission investigating the killing of 17 villagers in Sarkeguda, Chhattisgarh, which occurred on 28 June 2012 in a joint operation by the CRPF and district police, suggests that those killed were . More recently, in Ehadsameta village of Bijapur district, Chhattisgarh, eight villagers who were killed by the CRPF and state Police in an ‘encounter’ turned out to be innocent villagers, as even admitted by the state,” the Jamia Association said.

The Supreme Court guidelines have stated tFOUR CHfourhat weapons used to slay the criminals be deposited to investigation, a written or electronic record be kept of the tip-off, an independent investigation be conducted of the suspicious encounters by the CID where NHRC may be involved, and the common principles related to life and liberty of human beings as per Universal Declaration of Human Rights be adhered to (to which India is a signatory).

The note issued by JTSA lastly read, " International jurisprudence on children in armed conflict has been continuously evolving in order to protect children from violence..... As citizens, we demand that the Supreme Court guidelines in encounter killings be followed. No amount of jingoism about violence of ‘non-state actors’ can or should justify the cynical taking of lives of children by the state agencies."