In one of the deadliest Naxal attacks in recent times, hundreds of Maoists on Monday ambushed and massacred at least 25 CRPF personnel in Chhattisgarh's Sukma district and escaped with their AK-47 assault rifles. The "strong" 99-member CRPF battalion was on foot patrolling the interior road — the team was entrusted with the task of providing security to a road construction project — when it came under sudden attack.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh condemned the incident strongly, stating that the killings were akin to cold blooded murder. He also said that the attack showed the naxals' frustration over the success of crackdown operations led by security forces in the recent past. The home minister also arrived in Raipur to pay homage to the slain jawans and visit the injured CRPF personnel.
The attack came close on the heels of a similar attack on 11 March in Bheji area of the same district where 12 personnel lost their lives. The militants reportedly used the weapons they had looted from the slain personnel in the Bheji incident.
Sukma has long been a nerve centre of the red corridor with frequent clashes between security forces and the Maoists being reported.
Here is all you need to know about the incident.
- A CRPF patrol party of the 74th battalion with nearly 100 personnel was tasked to provide security for road construction work in a forest area near in Kala Pathar near Chintagufa in Sukma district.
- According to India Today, the CRPF troopers left their camps at around 8:30 am and divided the force into two groups to man both sides of a crucial road being laid between Burkapal and Jagargunda.
- The ambush began at 12.30 pm by around 300 Maoist guerrillas just when the troops were readying up for their lunch. According to a surviving jawan's account, the Maoists first sent villagers to check the security force's position and later launched a surprised attack, which lasted for over three hours.
- Eye-witness said that women were also a part of the ambush party and the naxals were laced with sophisticated weaponry, like the AK series assualt rifles, which they apparently nicked from soldiers slain in previous such encounters. The surviving soldiers told CNN-news 18 that the naxals divided into smaller groups to target CRPF men and used human shields to drive maximum impact of the assault.
- Another report from NDTV states that the Maoists also used improvised explosive devices and rocket launchers as well.
- The area is close to the Chintagufa-Burkapal-Bheji axis, the hotbed of naxal violence which has seen a number of such attacks in the past resulting in high casualties.
- The paramilitary force said, "The CRPF troops replied in a befitting manner but taking geographical position in (sic) their advantage, Maoists succeeded in inflicting loss to CRPF." It claimed,"Considerable number of Maoists are belived to have been eliminated (in retaliatory action by CRPF men) as the tell-tale sign indicate from the ground."
- One of the jawans who survived the attack also claimed that at least 12-13 naxals would have bee killed in the cross firing. However, no bodies of the Leftist guerrillas have yet been found.
- Once the fighting died down, two Mi-17V5 helicopters were sent immediately from Jagdalpur to evacuate the wounded to Raipur hospitals and airlift the bodies of slain soldiers. Security forces later launched a major search operation to track down the Maoists.
- The dead included an Inspector, a Sub-Inspector, three Assistant Sub-Inspectors, six head constables and 14 constables. The naxals were believed to have also looted over a dozen weapons of the slain personnel.
- The six troopers who were wounded and have been warded in hospitals include Assistant Sub-Inspector RP Hembram and Constables Swaroop Kumar, Mohinder Singh, Jitendra Kumar, Sher Mohammed and Latoo Oraon. Mohammed and Oraon were said to be out of danger.
- Meanwhile, the Chattisgarh chief minister raman Singh cut short his Delhi visit and convened an emergency meeting after the encounter. Rajnath Singh also apprised the prime minister of the situation as the Centre has said that those involved in the attack will not be spared.
- The incident comes at a time when the country's largest paramilitary force is without a full-time chief after K Durga Prasad retired on 28 February.
- This is the same area where a Maoist carnage in 2010 left 76 CRPF troopers dead. At least 12 CRPF men were also killed in a similar Maoist attack in Sukma early this year.
- Maoists aligned to the outlawed Communist Party of India-Maoist have been active in Chhattisgarh's tribal-dominated interiors for decades, running a virtual parallel state.
With inputs from agencies
Updated Date: Apr 25, 2017 15:35 PM