Bijapur: Officials suspects the deadly Maoists attack at Chhattisgarh’s Bijapur-Sukma border that killed 22 CRPF jawans on Saturday, could be a pre planned attack as the Naxals used light machine guns (LMGs), under-barrel grenade launchers (UBGL) and “desi rockets” in the encounter, according to top Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) officials.
Based on the information given by a personnel directly involved in the operation, officials suspect how a 400-member security team was ambushed could be a planned move.
Officials suspect the ambush was carefully planned by the Maoists — with an intention of drawing the forces in first and then inflicting the maximum casualty. “We had specific inputs that Naxal commanders were present in the area around Tekulgudem village, in the forests of Silger. A search operation was launched based on this input,” Chhattisgarh director general of police DM Awasthi told media.
CRPF director general (DG) Kuldiep Singh, who is in Chhattisgarh, confirmed 22 casualties, including those from his force. Officials said the maximum casualty was inflicted by LMGs.
“Force commander told me that Naxals had hidden an LMG somewhere…from that position, they kept firing while hiding in safety. UBGL, desi rockets etc. have been used earlier too, but this time the intensity was lot more. Our boys fought valiantly. Naxals carried away their dead and injured in three tractors. So you can imagine the kind of casualties they suffered,” Singh said.
As per a senior official Maoists initially “fired mortars and bullets”, injuring “some of our personnel” near a village in Tarem area, which is some 400 kilometres from state capital Raipur. “The rest of the party, in a box formation, was taking the injured to a safe spot when LMGs opened fire from the village side…the left flank that had DRG and CoBRA suffered the maximum hit,” this CRPF official added.
Apart from the CRPF’s elite anti-Maoist Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBra) unit, the state’s District Reserve Group (DRG) and a Special Task Force (STF) were involved in the operation.
He told the media that two bodies were recovered on Saturday and 20 on Sunday. A jawan was still missing.
Furthermore, the Intelligence officials said inputs on the presence of Maoists were correct. “Whether the information was planted as a bait to draw in the forces is a matter of investigation, but military commander Hidma was present around that area,” another official said.
The ambush is suspected to have been carried out by Madvi Hidma, the notorious People’s Liberation Guerilla Army (PLGA) commander of the outlawed CPI (Maoist). He is believed to have been involved in several major attacks, including the one in 2013 that killed 27, including top state Congress leaders.
As per survivors, around 350 armed cadre of the CPI (Maoist) and some 250 members of the Jan Militia, who are sympathisers of the Maoists, took on the 400-member-strong joint team of CoBRA, DRG and STF.
Meanwhile, Maoist, too, suffered heavy losses. “The female Maoist (killed in the gunfight) appears to be a commander since she was carrying an INSAS rifle,” according to a CRPF officer.