CHANDIGARH: Family members of martyred soldiers, killed in a naxal ambush in Chhatisgarh’s sensitive Sukma district on Monday, have questioned the government on its stand to end the naxalite menace and protect soldiers after a pall of gloom mixed with anger prevailed at their houses.
41- year-old Ram Mehar, a constable with Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) was among the 25 martyred. His father Puran Chand has expressed his anger with the Union government for doing nothing to finish the naxalites. “The enemy is hiding within the country and has been killing our soldiers, and our government is not doing anything. We came to know about my son’s death when officials from his company called me on the phone,’’ he said.
Puran Chand alleged that the government had failed to take stringent action against Naxalites. Along with the bereaved family, the villagers demanded the government to give the army and paramilitary forces freedom to deal with such issues.
Ram Mehar, who was to retire soon as he had served over 19 years on active duty, had been posted in Chhattisgarh for the past two years. He is survived by his wife Poonam Rain and two children- a son in Class XII and a daughter who is in Class VIII.
Haryana minister of State for food and supplies, Karan Dev Kamboj, reached Ram Mehar’s home and expressed his condolences. Mehar’s mortal remains reached his Kheri Man village, in Karnal district here in the evening.
In neighboring Punjab, Balbir Singh, younger brother of deceased Raghbir Singh; an inspector with the CRPF, from Sathialave village in Amritsar district questioned the government’s stand on the issue, and termed it as an intelligence failure.
“The intelligence agencies of the government have time and again failed. There was a terror attack in Chhattisgarh some time ago and many of our soldiers were martyred. The government is doing nothing to curb naxalites and should give a free hand to the armed forces to wipe out these elements.’’
Raghbir Singh is survived by his wife, two children, younger brother and parents. His body reached the village on Tuesday evening and was cremated with full State honours.
Meanwhile, two CRPF personnel from neighboring Himachal Pradesh died in the ambush which was condemned by Himachal Pradesh Governor Acharya Devvrat and chief minister Virbhadra Singh.
Assistant sub-inspector Sanjay Kumar, from Palampur in Kangra district, was killed in Monday’s attack. His daughter Ameesha Sharma, a student of class XI said “My father has sacrificed himself for the nation, but what has he got from this act.”
“It was a proud moment for us and for the country,” said his father Rajinder Prasad Sharma, who has also served the CRPF. Sanjay Kumar, who was with CRPF for the last 27 years, was cremated on Tuesday evening in Palampur. He is survived by his parents, wife and two daughters.
The second soldier, Surender Thakur (33), head constable with CRPF had joined duty after a two week break since April 10. Hailing from Nerchowk town of Mandi district in the hill State, he had been in Sukma for the past three years.
Surender Thakur’s family said that after news of the attack, they called Surender on his mobile phone but it was answered by someone else who delivered the news to them. Surender Thakur is survived by his wife, a three-year-old daughter, mother and an elder brother.
He had joined CRPF in 2003 and had earlier served in Jammu and Srinagar for six years. His body was brought to his native and cremated with full State honours.
Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh announced an ex-gratia amount of Rs. 5 lakh as compensation for the next inspector Raghbir Singh's next of kin.
Expressing grief at the senseless act of violence, Amarinder Singh urged the central government to work on a comprehensive policy to deal with the Naxal problem.
Singh observed that Naxalite violence has escalated in recent years with security forces often forced to bear the brunt of their actions, he observed. He added that his government would support any efforts to tackle the issue.
The CRPF personnel were ambushed by around 300 naxals in South Bastar’s Kala Pathar area, close to the Chintagufa-Burkapal-Bheji axis, the hotbed of Naxal violence that has seen a series of such attacks in the past.