New Delhi: A day after an IED explosion triggered by Maoists on a Mine Protected Vehicle (MPV) resulted in the killing of nine CRPF personnel in Chhattisgarh's Sukma district, a blame game appears to have started on Wednesday between the paramilitary force and the state police.
The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) hinted that the fault was of a senior Chhattisgarh Police officer that the incident resulted in heavy casualties.
Nine personnel of CRPF's 212 Battalion were killed and two injured in the biggest attack this year when Maoists blew up an MPV in which they were travelling on the 5-km under-construction Kistaram-Palodi road in Sukma at around 12.30 p.m.
CRPF said that Sukma Superintendent of Police Abhishek Meena had asked its Commanding Officer (CO) Prashant Dhar to provide assistance to a District Reserve Group (DRG) team of Chhattisgarh Police heading towards Palodi. Asking for protection is a routine affair as both the forces work in coordination in most of the operations in the Maoist-affected district.
That same morning, a CoBRA team from the CRPF had been attacked by the Maoists. But after retaliation, the attackers had fled.
Explaining the events leading up to the second attack within four hours of the first, Deputy Inspector General of CRPF M. Dinakaran told IANS: "Generally, we never take the same routes after such attacks. We knew that the ultras might attack our teams again, but it was Sukma S.P. Abhishek Meena who visited our camp in Kistaram and asked our CO to send a CRPF team with the DRG."
However, Dinakaran said that when the commanding officier explained that Maoists could attack a second time, the Sukma S.P. decided to move without the CRPF's assistance. But "thinking that, if any untoward incident happened with the DRG, he would be held responsible, Dhar finally decided to send a team of 212 battalion with the Sukma S.P. It was the biggest mistake," Dinakaran said.
Meena could not be contacted on phone despite several attempts. A mail sent to him by IANS remained unanswered.
Asked if it was intelligence failure on the part of CRPF, Dinakaran said: "No, it's not a matter of intelligence failure. Our CoBRA team was attacked by two Maoist groups around 8 a.m. on the same route."
Clarifying that he did not want to enter into a blame game, Dinakaran said: "We are still waiting for a final report of the whole incident which will be prepared by a DIG-rank CRPF official."
Asked if sending an MPV was a wise decision, Dinakaran said that such vehicles were useful when there was a possibility of an attack. "As the CO had apprehension of another attack by the Maoists, he chose to move some men in two MPVs so that they would not be hurt during the operation."
"The DRG team, including Meena, was on motorcycles along with some of our men. Over 20 men were in the two MPVs," he narrated.
After the DRG team and one MPV had passed through the area safely, the second MPV was blown up by a heavy-duty IED planted on the road by the Maoists. Dinakaran said the MPV had the capacity to withstand an IED with explosives up to 60 kg. The one used by the Maoists were assessed to have over 100 kg of explosives.