Ranchi: The somber soundtrack of the bugle as his colleagues pay their last respects to Francis Induwar. The senior intelligence officer was buried on Wednesday morning in Jharkhand.
Twenty four hours before that, his body was found on a local highway. His head had been severed, Taliban-style. An accompanying note from local Naxals said Induwar's murder was their revenge for "police oppression". They kidnapped Induwar last week from a market where he was meeting a source.
He may have been killed while doing his job, but there were no politicians at his funeral. The Director General of the Police also chose not to attend.
Induwar's wife broke down as his colleagues stood by silently. Their morale is low, their anger at a flashpoint. Just before the funeral began came the news that Induwar had been beheaded 12 hours before his body was found.
"I will not work till I get adequate security. The job of the Special Branch is to track the Naxals, but we are made to do many more jobs. This has to stop," states Naresh Sharma, Inspector, Special Branch.
Induwar's murder has given much weight to those who argue that it's time to stop justifying the Naxal cause.
Spread over 40,000 square kilometers 20 states, in what's come to be known as India's Red Corridor, Naxals are repeatedly described as the biggest internal security threat to the country. Their hold over tribal and marginalized areas is attributed to crippling poverty, and the absence of development.
Security officials retort they lose one man on an average everyday to Naxal violence. It could be time, they say, to consider treating Naxals like terrorists.
Home Minister P Chidambaram comments, "As long as the Maoists believe in armed liberation, we have no choice but to ask security forces to them take and engage them."
Rahul Gandhi suggests the solution lies in development. "My view is that in states like Chhattisgarh, Orissa and Jharkhand, governments are not reaching the population. That is one cause for the Naxal problem," the Congress leader said while on tour in Kerala.
But with 2000 police stations under the control of Naxals, the dilemma is how do you reach the people without first reclaiming the districts?