New Delhi, April 25 (IANS) Ignoring the usual rush on the day of the Monday market as a routine affair proved costly to a CRPF contingent which lost 25 men to Maoists in a forested patch of interior Chhattisgarh.
Citing the versions of six injured Central Reserve Police Force troopers, a Deputy Commandant said on the condition of anonymity that over 300 heavily armed Maoists attacked on Monday, taking advantage of the weekly market in Burkapal area.
Burkapal is almost five kilometres from Kala Pathar in Sukma district where the bloodiest massacre since 2010 occurred at around 12.30 p.m. when the insurgents, women included, ambushed the 74th Battalion.
Six troopers are being treated in a Raipur hospital. Twenty-five others — an Inspector, a Sub-Inspector, three Assistant Sub-Inspectors, six Head Constables and 14 Constables — died in the attack.
“It was a pre-planned attack. The Maoists took advantage of the weekly market rush. Pretending to be innocent villagers, the Maoists attacked our men from three sides,” said the official of the 300,000-strong force.
He said the CRPF contingent did not try to sanitise the area when they saw the movement of villagers towards the weekly market, held on Mondays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“As the market is a routine affair, the movement of traders and buyers from different villages started at dawn. Our troopers didn’t try to disturb them unnecessarily. This led to the biggest setback for us,” the officer told IANS.
He said the Maoists took help of villagers and attacked one of the three groups of the 99-member contingent providing security to road construction workers between Chintagufa and Burkapal villages.
The officer claimed the Maoists used villagers as “shield”.
“Our injured men said they faced difficulties while retaliating as the Maoists used women and children as their shield. The villagers were at the front and the attackers behind them.”
Another officer said security personnel deployed in Chhattisgarh had been asked to be alert fearing Maoist activities.
“The summer season proves favourable for Maoist attacks as the grass and bushes dry up, providing a clear view of our forces in the jungle terrain.”
Asked if the attack was an intelligence failure, former CRPF Director General Durga Prasad said: “Why is this always said? It is totally wrong.
“This attack happened when a CRPF contingent was providing security at a site of road construction going on for a long time in a densely forested area,” Prasad told IANS.
This was the worst attack by Maoists in Chhattisgarh since 2010 when 76 CRPF troopers were killed. Twelve CRPF men were killed in a similar Maoist attack in Sukma on March 11.
(Rajnish Singh can be contacted at [email protected] in)