RAIPUR: Seven jawans of Chhattisgarh police were killed in a powerful blast triggered by the outlawed CPI (Maoist) on the Jagargunda-Cholnar route in Dantewada district, about 420 km south of Raipur, on Sunday.
Such was the impact of the Improvised Explosive Device (IED) blast that a vehicle carrying the policemen, said to be a private vehicle, was tossed up in the air and split into two. The bodies were found some 30 metres away from the spot, where a seven-metre-wide crater was formed by the explosion.
The deceased included three jawans from Chhattisgarh Armed Forces (CAF) and four from the district police.
“It was a powerful IED blast. We lost six personnel who were returning from Jagargunda. They were on operation duty. The vehicle was carrying seven jawans. We are gathering more inputs from the location”, the deputy inspector general of police, state police headquarters, P Sunderraj said, speaking before the seventh jawan succumbed to his injuries.
It is believed the Naxalites might have used 40-50 kg of explosives. “The trigger command of Naxals had carried out the blast. The personnel of FSL and paramilitary forces are investigating the quantum of explosives used in the blast”, the police officer said.
The rebels also succeeded in “looting six modern weapons” -- two AK-47 rifles, two self-loading rifles and two INSAS rifles -- along with two hand grenades and fled into the nearby forest.
The IED blast, just two days before Chief Minister Raman Singh’s scheduled visit to Bacheli in Dantewada on Tuesday as part of his ‘Vikas Yatra’ has evidently sent the state police into a tizzy.
The spot where the IED blast occurred is barely 700 metres away from the nearest CRPF camp, which indicates that the area was not covered during routine road opening operations by the troopers.
The chief minister has strongly condemned the incident “It’s a dastardly act of Naxals and shows signs of their frustration over the expeditious development carried out in the area”, he said.
Reinforcements were sent to the region and search operations have been intensified.
Dantewada remains one of the worst affected districts in the conflict zone of Bastar and is cited as an epicentre of left-wing extremists in south Chhattisgarh.
Police lag behind on human intelligence
The Maoists are apparently way ahead of the state police in human intelligence. One of the biggest strengths of the rebels are local villagers who provide them real-time information.
A private vehicle, either hired or bought by the armed forces, without any number and carrying seven security personnel, could be easily targeted in Dantewada by Naxalites barely 700 metres away from the nearest CRPF camp.
The large quantity of explosives planted by the Naxalites on the road couldn’t be detected.
The police, nevertheless, claimed that “with connectivity improved, the reach of civil administration, infrastructure, health, education, and various civic action programmes have immensely strengthened intelligence gathering”.