One of the early lessons taught to those who police Chhattisgarh’s Maoist-infested jungles is not to use the nearest boulder or tree as cover.
Why not? It may be booby trapped.
Security men are advised to move further away and then seek to conceal themselves from the flying bullets.
But on Tuesday morning, even this tactic did not work.
For quite some distance from the spot at which the first landmine exploded, the Maoists had not left an inch of cover or a tree that didn’t have pressure mines. Each time the panicky securitymen ducked behind a cover, it exploded.
A CRPF officer said it was an old trick in the Maoist ambush strategy. “We have trained our men not to seek shelter behind the most obvious defensive structure if they are ambushed by Maoists,” he said. “But what do you do when just about every structure has been mined?
“Either get blown up by the pressure mines or take the bullet from the enemy,” the officer said, explaining why the unit of CRPF personnel — who had a mix of rifles, light machine guns, grenade launchers and mortars — was practically wiped out.