Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Ammonium nitrate, that devastated Beirut, is key component in IEDs used by Maoists in Chhattisgarh

By Ejaz Kaiser| Express News Service | Published: 11th August 2020 12:38 PM

A deep crater-like structure formed on the NH-16 in Bastar after the IED blast triggered by Maoists.

RAIPUR: The ammonium nitrate that resulted into catastrophic blast in Lebanon, is often used by the outlawed CPI (Maoist) in Chhattisgarh to detonate Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) that continues as a big challenge for security forces deployed in the conflict zone for the past two decades.

Seventy-six personnel were massacred by Maoists in April 2010, 29 Congressmen died in ambush in May 2013, Doordarshan cameraman killed in 2018, BJP MLA died in IED planted by the rebels in 2019 ahead of Lok Sabha polls.

Similar such incidents are indicative of extensive use of IED explosions by ultras turning the strife-torn Bastar on edge in south Chhattisgarh. Blowing up of the IEDs are almost always followed by exchange of fire with the forces leading to causalities.

The law enforcing agencies affirmed that despite the Maoist-related incidents now on a declining trend, the strenuous challenge and task to effectively counter IED threats persist in any operation.

The problem becomes exacerbated in the virtual war zone of Bastar, south Chhattisgarh, where the Maoist Brigade remains most active, waging the battle against the forces and state for the past three decades.

"Ammonium Nitrate is most commonly used explosive material in IED's by Maoists. IED remains one of the main challenges the security forces encounter while countering the left wing extremists in Bastar region. We not only lost hundreds of our brave soldiers but many innocent civilians including women, children and even cattle were killed in the IED explosions," said Sunderraj P, inspector general of police (Bastar zone).

Every year on an average there are over 60 incidents of IED explosions in Bastar. "Since 2016 till date, we have recovered 1268 IED's that were defused safely," the IG added.

Maoists in the past succeeded in getting hold of ammonium nitrate in big ways. In 2010 they looted around 16 tonnes of it from a truck which was on its way from Visakhapatnam to Chhattisgarh. Again in 2013 the rebels intercepted the chemical-laden lorry proceeding tor a industrial plant in Raipur from Vishakhapatnam. Similar incidents then led to strong apprehensions about the stolen explosives might be used by the outlawed to trigger landmine blasts.

Chhattisgarh state consequently evolved a strong mechanism to prevent any kind of pilferage of explosive materials. Stern action are being taken against those found in illegal possession, transports or using the explosive materials, Sunderraj stated.

The Centre’s notification issued in 2011 cited ammonium nitrate, if in any combination containing more than 45 per cent of it by weight, including emulsions, suspensions, melts or gels shall be deemed to be an explosive under the Explosive Act 1884.

“IED is the easiest weapon for Maoists who always look for soft options to target," asserted Brigadier (retired) B K Ponwar, a jungle warfare expert.

Ever since the Chhattisgarh carved out as a separate state in November 2000, there has been over 1100 IED blasts in the districts worst affected by the presence of left-wing extremism. The powerful detonation of these IEDs claimed the lives of hundreds of security personnel besides the civilians too. (See Table).

The IEDs recovered recovered doubled during the span of last decade — from 938 detected during 2001—2010 to a total of 1918 traced from 2011 till June 2020.

Particulars2000-20102010-2020 (till June)Total
IED blasts5995011100
Personnel killed9485271475
IED recovered93819182856


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