South Asia

'Rubbish truck' used to transport dead Indian police

Policemen carry the flag-draped coffin of a colleague killed in Chhattisgarh
Image caption Police say there was no intention to dishonour the dead

A row has broken out in India over the decision to transport three policemen who died fighting Maoist rebels in the state of Chhattisgarh in a rubbish truck.

Police said that they had to use the vehicle because there was no other form of transport to remove the dead men from the scene of battle.

The opposition Congress in the state has lambasted the ruling BJP party over the incident.

It has demanded strong action against the officials responsible.

"The incident shows the highest degree of insensitivity by the BJP towards those fighting the Maoists and laying down their lives," Congress chief spokesperson Ramesh Varlyani said.

"The party has brought disgrace to their sacrifice. The government should apologise publicly for the act."

Police say that no ambulance was available after the men were killed in a bomb explosion after conducting a search operation in the Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh.

"But it doesn't mean it was done to bring disgrace to the martyrs," said spokesman Ankit Garg. "We had to act with whatever resources were available to us at that point of time."

Officials say that the vehicle used was thoroughly cleaned before the bodies were transported.

Maoist rebels say they are fighting for the rights of indigenous tribal people and the rural poor.

They are active in several eastern and central states. In one of the most deadly attacks last year, rebels killed 74 policemen in Dantewada.

India's prime minister has described the Maoist insurgency as the country's biggest internal security challenge.

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