Seven Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel were killed in a deadly landmine explosion triggered by Maoists in the Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh on Wednesday.
The incident occurred when a vehicle carrying a group of CRPF personnel, of the 230 battalion, was heading towards the battalion’s camp at Bhusaras village under the Nakulnar police station in Dantewada district.
A local police source said that the Maoists used an IED (improvised explosive device) to trigger the landmine. The explosion was so powerful that the vehicle carrying the jawans was blown to pieces. The severity of the blast could be judged from the size of the crater left on the road.
Local sources from Dantewada told Firstpost that the CRPF jawans were returning back to duty from leave, and as their vehicle reached near a culvert between Mokhpal and Melawada village, the explosion occurred.
The seven CRPF jawans who lost their lives are D Bijay Raj (Asst Sub-inspector), Pradeep Tirky (Head constable) and constables Roop Narayan Das, Devendra Chourasia, Ranjan Das, SN Udey Singh and J Rajendran.
Confirming the deaths, Dantewada police said that besides the seven casualties, several other CRPF personnel were severely injured. The death toll is expected to rise.
DM Awasthi, Chhattisgarh Police Special DG (Naxal Ops) said, “The CRPF jawans were returning to their camp to join their duties after a vacation. They were in civil uniform and were unarmed. A probe has been ordered into today’s incident.”
It is believed that the Maoists carried out the explosion in the wake of increased anti-Naxal operations in the Maoist-hotbed Bastar. The attack has come at a time when Chhattisgarh has been citing record Naxal surrenders in the last six months.
Chhattisgarh is known to be one of the worst Maoist-hit states in India. Several attacks on security personnel have taken place in the state in the past.
In 2013, a Maoist attack at Darbha Ghati (valley) almost wiped out the entire top leadership of the Congress party in Chhattisgarh.
In 2010, after 76 CRPF personnel were killed in one of India’s worst-ever Maoist attacks in Dantewada, the then home minister P Chidambaram offered his resignation over the massacre saying, “I accept full responsibility for what happened in Dantewada”. However, the then prime minister Manmohan Singh rejected Chidambaram’s resignation.
“On Wednesday, weekly market (Haat) takes place at Melawada village. Probably, the Naxals had the information that CRPF team might visit the haat as they were supposed to join their duties after a vacation and laid down the landmines,” a police source told Firstpost.
Meanwhile, in another separate incident, two CRPF jawans were severely injured due to an IED blast triggered by the Maoists at a place 2 km from Sarkeguda village near Bijapur in Bastar. The two jawans were transported by helicopter to a hospital in Raipur.
Some of the worst Maoist attacks in Bastar, Chhattisgarh
2014: 24 killed, including 23 CRPF men and a civilian.
2013: 42 killed including top Chhattisgarh Congress leaders, jawans, cops and villagers at Darbha Ghati.
2012: 15 killed including policemen, CISF, BSF personnel and civilians. Sukma collector abducted, later released.
2011: 34 killed including civilians at Bijapur, Narayanpur and Dantewada.
2010: 76 CRPF personnel killed in Dantewada.
2009: 30 policemen including SP in Madanwada (Rajnandgaon).
2008: 11 jawans and civilians, and three Maoists killed during Assembly Polls.
2007: 55 policemen killed in Bijapur.