RAIPUR: Around 110 personnel of 219th CRPF battalion left their base camp in Sukma, south Chhattisgarh on Saturday morning for search operations and the road opening party (ROP) was “ignorant” of the presence of armed Maoists barely 2-3 kilometres away.
As the troopers reached Kotacheru in Sukma district the rebels opened indiscriminate firing on the forces and triggered landmine blasts killing 12 jawans and managed to flee with their weapons and radio-sets. Two critically injured personnel were air-lifted to Raipur.
“There was no specific tip-off shared with our men before they set out for ROP, otherwise we would have planned different operations to counter the Maoists,” a DIG rank CRPF based in south Bastar told the New Indian Express.
“I won’t say there was an intelligence failure. At times the inputs received about the location of Naxalites and their definite place varies. The rebels are believed to be present at some area but they remain elsewhere,” the Bastar zone DIG P Sunderraj said.
Union home minister Rajnath Singh after paying tribute to the slain CRPF men at Raipur, reviewed the anti-Maoist operations and the ground situation at Bastar. “Though the Maoist-related incidents have declined, there will be an inquiry into the Sukma incident,” Singh said.
The selection of ideal ambush stretch and the trapping the jawans suggest their level of preparedness of the Maoists, another CRPF officer said and added, “We were caught off-guard.”
“What were the rest of the 112 doing? Such a large number of personnel are capable of fighting on their own. They neither need reinforcement nor intelligence inputs,” said Brigadier (Retd) B K Ponwar, director of Kanker-based counter terrorism and jungle warfare college.