In the CRPF’s biggest single-day casualty in Chhattisgarh this year, 14 of its personnel, including two officers, were killed in a Maoist attack in Chintagufa area of Sukma district on Monday afternoon. At least 15 personnel have been injured — five are reported to be in a serious condition.
The victims, including Deputy Commandant D S Verma and Assistant Commandant Rajesh Kapuria, were from the 223 battalion of the CRPF.
“Our parties were inside (the forest) for an operation when the Maoists ambushed them. Fourteen personnel were killed,” confirmed ADG (Naxal Ops) R K Vij. The incident took place deep in the forest, around 10 km southwest of the last police camp at Chintagufa.
According to reports, a huge team of over 550 CRPF and state personnel had left the police camps in Chintagufa and Kankerlanka for the operation on Saturday. One party was led by CRPF IG (Chhattisgarh) H S Siddhu.
At around 2 pm today, the security personnel reportedly faced Maoist resistance near Tondamarka village in Kasarpad. Maoists opened heavy fire, and the ambush lasted for over an hour. The rebels also looted a significant number of weapons.
“The forces have returned to the Chintagufa camp. The chopper could not fly because of low light,” said Vij. Air support could not be provided to rescue the injured personnel and get the bodies.
Today’s incident took place in the same region where seven personnel were injured in a Maoist attack just over a week back, when the rebels had managed to hit the Mi 17 that had been sent to evacuate the injured. Considered a “liberated zone”, the forces have rarely been able to venture into this area.
“It is a challenge for the country. I am personally hurt by this incident,” said Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh today. He said he would reach Sukma distrct tomorrow.
The attack has come at a time when Chhattisgarh has been citing record Naxal surrenders in the last six months. Just yesterday, Chief Minister Raman Singh had said “the Maoists would be finished from Chhattisgarh soon”.
The CRPF has recently undertaken massive operations in the interior areas of Sukma.
Singh, who was in New Delhi, curtailed his visit and is returning tonight. He will hold a high-level meeting of senior officers.
The attack also comes a day before the People’s Liberation of Guerrilla Army of the CPI (Maoist) is set to begin its foundation week from December 2-8.
Significantly, a delegation of the National Security Advisory Board is in Chhattisgarh these days to review the Maoist situation in the state.