Thursday, August 06, 2009

He left tranquil backwaters for naxal-infested forests

By: Anshuman G Dutta Date: 2009-08-06 Place: Delhi

A native of God's own country, Constable S Babu joined CRPF and fought naxals and militants across the country

What could have led a man to leave soothing backwaters in his native Alleppy district in Kerala and go to some dense naxal-infested forest in Jharkhand risking his life?

"It was the urge to serve my country," said Constable S Babu of the Central Reserve Police Force.
A soft-spoken Babu has seen the worst face of naxal terror across ten states. From Warangal in Andhra Pradesh, Tripura in the northeast and Jammu and Kashmir, Babu has managed to survive one of the worst violence perpetrated by the red army.

"In Kerala life is very peaceful. No one from my family ever joined the armed forces. But since childhood I wanted to serve my country and joined Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) when I was only 23 years old," Babu told MiD DAY.

War for peace: Constable S Babu pic/mid-day

Babu, who is known for keeping his cool under difficult circumstances, soon found himself in the militancy-hit Tripura. "Life changed instantly. The peace and tranquility of my village backwaters were gone and I started waking up to blasts," he said.

The real rude shock came for Babu when he was posted in Warangal district of Andhra Pradesh in 2004.

"We got information about a few naxals hiding in a remote village. We had very little information and the operation had to be carried out before the daybreak. We marched entire night in the dense forest and reached the village periphery," he recalled.

The local police joined Babu's CRPF unit, acting as guides and helping in post operation search of the village.

Soon, they came to know that the rebels were heavily armed and hiding inside the village. The CRPF team realised they have to finish the operation before the village wakes up and Babu was part of the few people who were asked to go in for the first round of assault.

But as soon as the team reached the hideout, the naxals started firing heavily.

"We took our positions and there were several narrow lanes outside the adjoining houses. I along with few others managed to crawl towards the militants and took guard outside the walls of the house," Babu said.

Naxals were firing indiscriminately and the gunshots soon woke up the entire village. Babu returned the fire with his Self Loading Rifle (SLR) and managed to silence the naxal fire. The brief second for which the naxals took to reload their arms, Babu charged in and shot down two naxals. He had no idea about the number of militants hiding in the house yet he risked his life to clear the hideout. "There were total four militants inside the house and with two of their men down the other two ran away. I shot one of them but he managed to escape," Babu said.

He was awarded Police Medal for Gallantry (PMG) for his bravery and skills. He has served in all kind of militancy-infested areas in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K), North East and southern states like Andhra Pradesh ever since.

Babu got married in 2006 and has a two-year-old daughter.

"It's not about killing militants by risking your life. The more important thing is that we should wake up to the challenges, which are plaguing the development of the country. I am happy I have contributed with my honest efforts. But the best is yet to come," he said.

Red death
1996: 156 deaths
1997: 428 deaths
1998: 270 deaths
1999: 363 deaths
2000: 50 deaths
2001: 100+ deaths
2002: 140 deaths
2003: 451 deaths
2004: 500+ deaths
2005: 892 deaths
2006: 749 deaths
2007: 384 deaths
2008: 938 casualties including (38 Maoists)
2009: Naxalites separatists struck at the first phase of elections on 16 April, 2009 in Bihar, Chattisgarh and Jharkhand killing 18 civilians and security forces. Later, on 23 April, 2009, they also struck in the second phase of polling in Jamshedpur and surrounding areas in Jharkhand injuring several member of the polling party. May 2009: 16 police die in suspected Maoist attack

(Source: Union Ministry for Home Affairs)

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