Raipur, Dec 2: A day after 14 personnel of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) were killed in a Naxal ambush in Chhattisgarh’s Sukma district, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh arrived here on Tuesday to take stock of the situation.
According to reports, the Home Minister will hold talks with the state leadership as well as security officials, but will not visit the ambush site.
Rajnath on Monday had said that he was waiting for a detailed report and would fly to Chhattisgarh on Tuesday.
Calling it an act of cowardice and a “dastardly act” of violence, he said in Lucknow, “The Naxals have carried out the attack by putting innocent villagers as human shields.”
“It is unfortunate that they attacked. We are determined to end the menace of naxalism from the state,” said Rajnath Singh, who also briefed Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the Naxal ambush.
Using human shields, Maoists had unleashed a major attack killing 14 CRPF personnel, including two officers, and injuring 12 others. This was the second ambush on the force in 10 days in the same area in the Naxal-infested Sukma district.
The attack took place when CRPF personnel were returning to their camp. This assault was the biggest Maoist strike on the paramilitary force this year in the state. On March 11, eleven CRPF men were among 15 people killed in a Maoist attack in Sukma district.
Speaking to mediapersons here on Monday night, Chief Minister Raman Singh said: “As per latest reports, 14 CRPF men were killed and another 12 have been injured.”
It may be noted that a joint squad of CRPF, its elite battalion-CoBRA (Compact Battalion for Resolute Action) and district force was attacked by a large group of Maoist rebels in the dense forests in insurgency-hit South Bastar when they were returning to their camp after combing operations in the Chintagufa region, a senior police official reportedly said.
The official said rebels opened indiscriminate firing on the security patrol in the forests between Dornapal and Chintalnar villages when they were cordoning off Kasalpada forest leaving 13 of them dead on the spot.
“Two officers – a Deputy Commandant and an Assistant Commandant – are among 14 CRPF men killed in the ambush,” Chhattisgarh’s ADG K Vij told a news agency. The Deputy Commandant and Assistant Commandant were identified as BS Verma and Rajesh Kapuriya.
The attack took place in the same base region of outlawed CPI (Maoist) where 76 troopers were massacred in 2010.
Subsequently, security personnel launched retaliatory attack and the encounter lasted for around several hours following which rebels fled to the core forest area, a senior police official said.
The CRPF personnel killed in the ambush have been identified as Sub-Inspector Hemraj, Head Constable Panchu Ram and Kuldeep Ponia, Constables Umang Pawar, Ram Mohan, PL Maji, Mukesh Kumar, Gauri Shankar, Manish Singh, Radhe Shyam, Saji Bhat and Deepak Kumar.
Chief Minister Raman Singh strongly condemned the attack and termd it a “cowardly act” of violence.
A day after the Naxal ambush, it has emerged on Tuesday that the ultras not just targeted the paramilitary troopers but also looted their weapons.
Among the weapons and equipment taken away by Naxals include one SLR, one machine gun, 10 AK-47 rifles, one VHF set, binoculars and jackets, BSF sources said.
In a report sent to the Union Home Ministry, CRPF has reportedly expressed apprehension that Maoists may use the looted weapons to carry out another strike. Intelligence agencies, too, have reportedly have expressed similar apprehension.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed shock over incident and tweeted: “Words are not enough to condemn the brutal and inhuman attack by anti-national elements in Sukma.”
(With Agency Inputs)