Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Bloody Tuesday as Maoists massacre 75 security personnel

6 Apr 2010, 2025 hrs IST,IANS

NEW DELHI/RAIPUR: Maoist guerrillas Tuesday carried out the worst ever massacre of security personnel by trapping and slaughtering 75 men in the
dense forests of Chhattisgarh, two days after Home Minister P. Chidambaram called them cowards. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has called for a security meet.

"The death toll is 75 of which 74 are from the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and one from the state police force. Seven others are also injured," a senior CRPF official said here in Delhi.

"The security personnel from the 62nd battalion of the force were on regular patrolling when they were ambushed by the Maoists," the official added.

The officials refused to say how many personnel were missing after the attack in Dantewada in Bastar region. The number of missing personnel could be high as a company usually comprises 100-120 men.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has called a meeting with Chidambaram, Defence Minister A.K. Antony and the three defence chiefs. Though officials are terming it as a scheduled meeting, the Maoist attack is likely to top the agenda.

After news of the Maoist attack, a shocked Chidambaram expressed distress over the massacre as reinforcements were rushed to evacuate the wounded and save survivors of the CRPF team that had gone looking for Maoists.

Chidambaram, the spearhead of a nationwide anti-Maoist campaign called Operation Green Hunt, said the CPRF seemed to have walked into a Maoist trap.

"Something has gone very wrong," Chidambaram told reporters. "They seem to have walked into a trap set by the Naxalites. I am deeply shocked. This shows the savage nature of the CPI-Maoist, the brutality and savagery they are capable of."

In what appeared to be a meticulously planned operation, hundreds of Maoists -- one report put the number at about 700 -- bombed and fired at the CRPF personnel as they entered a hilly stretch of forest where the rebels have held sway for decades, running a de facto state.

According to the sequence of events, after receiving information about Maoist presence, a small CRPF search party was sent into the jungle. The troopers came under attack from the rebels and a gunfight ensued. Reinforcements were sent for, which comprised a 120-strong contingent that went in a vehicle and was ambushed by the rebels.

The incident took place about 450 km south of Raipur. Dantewada is considered a stronghold of the outlawed Communist Party of India-Maoist, which Prime Minister Manmohan Singh says has emerged as the biggest internal security threat.

"A massive contingent of heavily armed Maoists ambushed a CRPF team in a hilly stretch. They first triggered blasts from all directions and followed (it) with indiscriminate firing," Director General of Police Vishwa Ranjan told IANS.

He said one chopper had been sent from Jagdalpur, headquarters of Bastar district, to move the injured to hospital. A strong contingent of state police force had rushed to the site.

Many security personnel are reportedly missing, and two Indian Air Force (IAF) helicopters looked for them in the forests, police sources said. The attackers made away with weapons.

CRPF Director General Vikram Srivastava and senior officers from New Delhi are reviewing the situation in the state. The air force has also asked its attack Mi-17 chopper and transport aircraft AN-32 to remain on stand by. Choppers from the central paramilitary Border Security Force (BSF) are involved in search and rescue operations.

It was the worst massacre since Maoists stormed an isolated police post in Chhattisgarh's Bijapur district in March 2007 and killed 55 policemen.

Former Punjab police chief K.P.S. Gill described the anti-Maoist operation as "flawed".

"It has been a flawed operation, it still is," said Gill, a former security advisor to the Chhattisgarh government. "Their basic concept is flawed," he told Times Now television.

Other experts said the dead men Tuesday had violated the basic principles of anti-insurgency operations by travelling in large numbers in vehicles, providing an easy target for the Maoist People's Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA).

"There is a clear-cut instruction for paramilitary as well as police to not use vehicles for any offensive in forested interiors. They are to go only on foot and also not in groups," said one officer, speaking on condition of anonymity. "The CRPF men grossly neglected the manuals and finally paid the price."

While Chhattisgarh Home Minister Nankiram Kanwar blamed the killings on intelligence failure, Chief Minister Raman Singh said: "We need to review our strategy every day. We need to have better coordination."

Chhattisgarh's mineral rich Bastar region has 40,000 sq km of land area but is among the poorest in India in economic development. It is dominantly home to impoverished tribals, many of whom work for the Maoists.

Bastar has witnessed a string of deadly attacks since 2005 that has claimed over 1,600 lives.

On Sunday, Chidambaram visited Lalgarh, a Maoist hub in West Bengal. There, he called the rebels cowards and then gave a virtual clean chit to the Chhattisgarh government, saying the situation there had improved vis-a-vis the Maoists.


Anonymous said...

It is a sad day that we have to lose so many valuable lives of CRPF men to make us take a mid course correction. The blame cannot just be put on the heads of that CRPF COY AND ITS COY COMMANDER. The question is who are the Police? administration idiots controlling this opearation. Why these forces are being emplyed in this manner by people who have not fired a weapon after their academy days. Why heads never roll of seniors as in armed forces only juniors are blamed typical bueacratic nonsensense


Anonymous said...

i think the state govt should be summarily dismissed for only behaving as deaf and dumb spectators .n modi/kps gill should lead the administration.