Naxal attack: Same old story, cops ignored rules
Guidelines say cops should take public transport, unmarked vehicles in Naxal-hit areas, but Jharkhand team was travelling in a mine-protected vehicle. Aloke Tikku reports.delhi Updated: Jan 23, 2012 08:35 IST
As another team of policemen lost their lives to a Maoist landmine in Jharkhand, a quick analysis of the Garhwa attack by the Centre has attributed the deaths to police officers flouting guidelines that advise against travelling to the hub of rebel activity in a mine-protected vehicle.
Over a dozen policemen-travelling in a mine-protected vehicle (MPV)-were killed when suspected Maoists triggered a landmine and took away their weapons on Saturday.
The policemen were escorting the block development officer (BDO), who was returning from a remote village after resolving local grievances relating to health facilities.
"Travelling in an MPV that can only withstand explosives up to 20 kg in broad daylight is inviting trouble," a central police official said, insisting that while there could be tactical setbacks during operations, Saturday's casualties appeared to be an "avoidable loss" of precious lives.
Incidentally, home minister P Chidambaram had emphasised on getting policemen to follow safety guidelines when he wrote to chief minister Arjun Munda earlier this month.
Chidambaram's letter followed an assessment at the home ministry on the need for Jharkhand to be more systematic and proactive in dealing with the Naxal challenge, particularly after policemen escorting MP Inder Singh Namdhari were killed in a landmine under similar circumstances.
Government officials said the state government could expect another letter from the ministry advising them to pull up their socks, particularly since the state accounted for the largest number of naxal violence in 2011.
A home ministry official said they had taken note of the incident and would continue to support efforts by the state government to rise to the challenge.