Maoists drop capital punishment in Bihar
PATNA: The popular Maoist guerrillas in Bihar have now promised not to award capital sentence or chop off an ear, nose and hands of anyone found guilty in their kangaroo courts.
In a major shift from its decades-old tradition of inflicting harsh punishments to those it found to be criminals or betrayers, the Communist Party of India (Maoist) will now let villagers decide on the quantum of punishment.
"The central committee of the CPI(M) has decided not to award death sentences or chop off noses, ears and hands as punishment," a CPI(M) leader who identified himself as Manish said over telephone from Gaya, about 100 km from Patna.
The rebels used to hold their jan adalat or people's courts in villages and forest areas to punish rich landowners, police informers, corrupt government officials, contractors and party betrayers.
Security forces see the Maoists' decision as a calculated move to win some popular support.
"The CPI(M) is trying to soften its image - that of a barbaric outfit," a police official said.
In rural Bihar, fear of punishment from Maoists remains deep rooted after decades.
Maoist guerrillas, claiming to fight for the landless and poor, have a strong presence in over a dozen districts in the state and are spreading their network in districts bordering Nepal.