Details are emerging of how several hundred Maoists overwhelmed a team of around 80 CRPF personnel in Tuesday’s daring and meticulously planned dawn attack in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada region that left 76 security men dead.
The rebels had laid improvised explosive devices, and, once ambushed, the CRPF men found little time to take positions as there was sustained firing from several directions.
The firing continued from all around, from the adjacent hilltop and tree tops as well — till nearly all the security men had fallen down, survivors said.
Baljeet Singh, one of the seven survivors of the massacre, said the CRPF men camping in the area had got information about Maoists’ presence early on Tuesday.
“We got up to have breakfast when a wireless message informed us about some Maoists meeting near Talmetla village,” Singh, who suffered several bullet injuries, told Hindustan Times. “We left immediately, just before sunrise.”
The Maoists struck when the security personnel were walking by a hill.
“As we moved towards Talmetla, we found ourselves trapped in a sudden Maoist assault,” he said.
Bullets pierced his thigh. “We soon realised we were encircled by our enemies, and I saw many colleagues in pools of blood,” he said, adding that the bloodbath lasted a couple of hours.
Pramod Kumar, another CRPF jawan, said using an anti-landmine vehicle,
which was ambushed, was a mistake. “I saw my colleagues fall one by one to Maoist bullets,” he said, adding that he felt helpless as he could do nothing to save them.
“How could 80 security personnel fight with over 1,000 armed Naxalites?” Kumar, in Jagdalpur’s Maharani hospital, said with tears in his eyes.
Ramesh Kumar, another survivor, said the rebels kicked the bodies to make sure the CRPF men were dead. “We fired back, but in vain,” Kumar, who sustained multiple injuries, said.
“Naxalites searched the bodies and escaped with our weapons. I held back my breath and played dead.”
Rai Bahadur, who was hit on the shoulder, said: “I could hear my closest friends crying in pain before they died, but could not help them.”