There are four IAF Mi-17 helicopters in Chhattisgarh at any given point of time to assist the security forces during the crisis. At least two Mi-17 always remain stationed at Jagdalpur, the district headquarters of Bastar.
However, none of the choppers were pressed into service during the encounter which took place on Monday at Chintagufa in Sukma around noon and left 14 CRPF jawans dead and about a dozen others injured.
“There was no Mi-17 chopper take-off till 6:30 pm”, a senior police officer of the rank of district superintendent of police told Hindustan Times.When HT contacted the officials deployed on the ground they expressed their displeasure and distress at not finding the IAF chopper flying during the crisis.
“During such an emergency, the Mi-17 chopper is expected to assist in a big way. But such help didn’t come for reasons best known to them,” they said.
Previously, when a number of jawans were injured near Chintagufa in Sukma, a few months ago, the IAF did not fly to their rescue.
“And finally the state government has sent its own chopper Chetak, to air-lift the injured troopers,” a senior officer not authorised to speak to the media, told HT.
Repeated attempts to contact the IAF officials based in Raipur for comments failed to get their response. Chhattisgarh also has the indigenous Dhruv chopper maintained by the BSF.