NEW DELHI: A possible leak by local villagers about the movement of a large number of CRPF and Chhattisgarh police personnel in Tarrem area of Bijapur could have led to quick mobilisation of CPI (Maoist) cadres in their ‘core’ area. They used their knowledge of vantage points to encircle the security personnel and inflict casualties.
Sources in Chhattisgarh police as well as CRPF officials said while there was indeed intelligence about PLGA-1 (People’s Liberation Guerilla Army) moving in the area, which led the forces to plan the massive operation, it is suspected that central regional command (CRC) cadres were also part of the ambush.
CRPF DG Kuldiep Singh told TOI that the ambush was laid by the Maoists possibly based on alerts and updates from local informants on the movement of troops. “There are many villages in the area and it is possible that a person collecting forest produce or grazing his cattle, while the troops pass, could be an informant of the Maoists. In this case, the troops took a different route while coming back but it seems the Maoists anticipated that route too, though this may have been sheer luck. Since it was their core area, they knew the vantage points and laid an effective ambush. But our men fought back and inflicted casualties on the other side,” he said.
A senior Chhattisgarh police official said that since security personnel move in batches, keeping a distance of 500 metres between them, armed CPI (Maoist) cadres usually wait for the tail formation to launch an attack. Often, these tailing 60-70 personnel are tired and let down their guard to take a break and rest. “This is when the Naxals strike with full force, which often results in high casualty,” the official told TOI. Incidentally, the villages in the area where the encounter took place on Saturday were emptied of residents. “This gives credence to the theory that the Maoists had information about troop movements and laid a trap,” Chhattisgarh DGP D M Awasthi said when contacted by TOI on Monday.
The CRPF chief said while standard operating procedures are followed when the troops are caught in an ambush, the only SOP that remains relevant is to beat the adversary.
On the use of improvised rocket launchers by the Maoists, Awasthi said this was not a new development as the Maoists had a history of producing such rocket launchers with the help of ‘leth’ machines.