MUMBAI/NEW DELHI: In a deadly land mine blast on Maharashtra Statehood Day, Maoists killed at least 15 security personnel of a quick response team of the state police on Wednesday at Jambhurkheda in Gadchiroli district, around 930 km from Mumbai. A civilian who was driving the bus in which the Gadchiroli Police’s QRT was travelling, was also killed.
The incident raised questions on the preparedness of the Maharashtra police to deal with the Maoists, with security experts pointing out that the police should have taken more precaution.
A senior security official said a specialised force such as the C-60 of the Maharashtra Police or the CRPF, the lead paramilitary force to deal with the Maoists, should have been sent to the spot instead of the QRT, which has hardly any experience of tackling such situations. Sources in the Ministry of Home Affairs said there were intelligence inputs of a possible attack to avenge one of the most successful operations carried by the Maharashtra police last year in which 40 Maoists were killed in Gadchiroli.
Around 12.30 am, Maoists set afire 27 vehicles belonging to a construction company near Dadapur village. The arson was used as a ‘bait’ to lure security personnel to the spot, security experts said.
The QRT team was rushing to the spot when it was ambushed near Lendhari bridge. They were travelling in a civilian vehicle to conceal their identity but the information somehow leaked, sources said.
After an incident, norms forbid security personnel from travelling on roads in Maoist areas. Police teams are also expected to travel by foot or in smaller vehicles in the wake of any incident.