RAIPUR: The deadly Maoist ambush of a Central Reserve Police Force or CRPF team that was helping build a road in Chhattisgarh’s Sukma on Monday, took place only about 2 km away from the CRPF camp. 25 CRPF men were killed and six were injured when about 300 Naxals attacked them with rocket launchers and AK-47s, outnumbering the 99-member team of soldiers. A senior police officer said the attack was well planned. Home Minister Rajnath Singh has called it a -challenge-. He will pay homage to the soldiers killed in state capital Raipur today.
The attack, second this year, at Kalapathar area of south Bastar region had started around 1 pm, just about 2 kms from a CRPF camp. The Maoists had first sent locals to find out the position of the CRPF, an injured trooper, Sher Mohammad, told the media, adding that the gunbattle lasted for about three hours.
Troopers who survived the horror said the attackers in black uniform used hand grenades, automatic rifles and rocket launchers as they attacked them “from all sides”. “The troopers replied in a fitting manner but taking geographical position to their advantage, the Maoists succeeded in inflicting loss to the CRPF,” a CRPF statement said. “A considerable number of Maoists are believed to have been eliminated,” it added.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the attack on the patrol party of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) was cowardly. “The sacrifice of the martyrs will not go in vain,” he said.
“It is very sad incident and we take it as a challenge”, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said on Monday. The minister also rushed his deputy Hansraj Ahir to Chhattisgarh to take stock of the situation.
The six injured jawans were air-lifted and sent to Raipur for treatment. Some of them are said to be critical. One of the injured men succumbed to injuries while being evacuated by air.
“We are yet to account for all the personnel and a search is on. Around 7 to 8 boys are still missing,” news agency Press Trust of India quoted a CRPF officer as saying.
Chief Minister Raman Singh flew back from New Delhi and held an emergency meeting with top officials to re-strategize moves against the Maoists who have shown signs of revival in recent months. “Our jawans will not back down,” Mr Singh said. “Sukma is Naxalite bastion. This road, once built, will cripple their network.”
Meanwhile, on the reports of 300 attackers, the acting Director General of the force, Sudeep Lakhtakia told NDTV this morning that reports “may be inaccurate” and may have been shared by jawans in a state of shock. “The total strength of a Maoist cadre in the area would not be more than 300 so the assumption is that one entire Maoist force may have been involved in the attack. However, this is an assumption,” he said.
On 11 March this year, 12 CRPF men were killed and four were injured in an ambush there. The forces were providing security cover for road construction on the Bheji-Gorkha-Injiram Axis area. Since April 2010, nearly 200 security personnel have died in six major attacks in Chhattisgarh.
After the March 11 attack, Rajnath Singh said it was a sign of the “frustration” of the Maoists because of the “unprecedented success” of the security operations against them. In a statement in Lok Sabha, the minister said in 2016, 135 extremists were killed and 700 were arrested.