Police blunder helped Naxalites kill 10 security men in Chhattisgarh

Security personnel battling Maoists in the forested region of Bastar have been warned not travel in large numbers in a single vehicle

Maoist, Chhattisgarh blast
Chhattisgarh Police committed a blunder and thus lost 10 of their men to Maoists on April 26 in Bastar in the worst such attack in two years I File photo

Chhattisgarh Police committed a huge blunder they should not have and thus lost 10 of their men to Maoists on April 26 in the worst such attack in some two years.

Security personnel battling Maoists in the sprawling forested region of Bastar region have been repeatedly warned not travel in large numbers in a single vehicle.

This is because concealed landmines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) have become a major part of the Maoist arsenal, and they use them liberally to blow up vehicles even on dirt tracks.

Also read: Chhattisgarh Naxal attack: Wreaths laid for 11 deceased, Baghel vows to strike back

That is precisely what they did on the Aranpur road in Dantewada district on April 26, killing 10 members of the District Reserve Guard (DRG) and their civilian driver.

According to police, the Maoists used at least 40 kg of powerful explosives that tore through the vehicle and its occupants, killing all the men instantly.

Maoists escape

The attackers escaped without trace, notching up another success in the seeming unending insurgency in the heart of India.

According to local sources, the Naxalites were on alert mode after becoming aware of a large police presence in the area.

Maoist leader Jagdish of the outlawed Communist Party of India (Maoist) was reportedly holding meetings in the jungles of Kakadi, Nahadi and Ganderas for four to five days.

He was said to moving around with a team of some 40 well-armed Maoists and planning to target the security forces.

Alerted by intelligence sources about him, some 300 security personnel were despatched to the forests of Aranpur to carry out a major offensive and to see if Jagdish could be captured.

The security personnel were dropped in the region at the night of April 25 but the Maoists soon reportedly became aware of this development.

Police operation

In the morning, the security forces and Maoists had a gun battle and two Maoists were arrested. Jagdish escaped.

It was then that the policemen – the DRG personnel are tribals drawn from the area and include surrendered Naxalites – committed the blunder of taking large private vehicles to return to their headquarters.

Of the two DRG vehicles, the first one had seven men and the second 10. Both were driven by civilian drivers, a clear indication that they were not police vehicles.

The driver of the first vehicle, however, halted some 100-150 years before the attack site to have chewing tobacco. Naturally, the second vehicle with 10 men overtook it.

When that vehicle reached the spot where the Maoists had buried the explosives, a deafening explosion sent the vehicle high in the air, killing all its occupants.

Breaching SOP

Experts said that the standard operating procedure (SOP) for security personnel makes it clear that they should not move in large numbers in vehicles so as to minimize the damage if and when the Maoists strike.

Also read: Chhattisgarh: Villager killed, another hurt as IED planted by Naxalites goes off in Kanker

This repeated advisory was ignored at a terrible cost, one officer said.

The driver of the second vehicle later said that he and the men with him would have been killed had they approached the attack site first. Eventually, it was sheer luck that saved them.