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Cop vs cop did them in?

All is not well between the central paramilitary forces and the Chhattisgarh police when it comes to fighting the Maoists.

india Updated: Apr 07, 2010 23:55 IST
Manish Tiwari

All is not well between the central paramilitary forces and the Chhattisgarh police when it comes to fighting the Maoists.

The killing of 76 security men in the Mukrana jungles of Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada, about 450 km south from here, on Tuesday by Maoists exposed not only the chinks in the forces’ armour, but also a complete lack of synergy.

“All along, there have been perceptional differences between the CRPF and the Chhattisgarh police,” said former Central Reserve Police Force chief A.S. Gill during whose tenure the anti-Maoist joint operations were planned.

Ever since the joint strikes began, the CRPF and the state police exchanged angry letters and even openly disagreed with each other in meetings.

A total of 24 battalions — 5 from BSF, 5 from ITBP and 14 from CRPF — stand deployed in Chhattisgarh to fight the Maoists.

Gill said the state police had been insisting on deployment of central paramilitary forces in and around police stations and random long-range patrols as deep as 25-30 km in dense jungles. “But we were always against it.”

A senior state police officer admitted that there were differences of opinion, saying on condition of anonymity: “There are divergent views on how the battle should fought.”

On Tuesday’s tragedy, he said the police had shared intelligence with the central forces a few days ago that two companies (about 200 men) of Maoists were sitting just eight km away from the massacre site. “So, the state police can’t be faulted at all.”

He said about 80 CRPF men, with just three police personnel, were sent in the jungles on April 4 evening to patrol different points in the jungle.

They were supposed to come back on the evening of April 7.

And even after getting information on the rebels’ movements — just eight km from the incident site — he said no strategy was chalked out.

But a CRPF officer, who is involved in the post-massacre investigation, said the Maoists followed the forces since they had left their camp and even planned the ambush during the preceding night.

“Apparently, there has been a tactical mistake,” he said. “Our men were probably too close to each other and did not adopt the basic tactics of the jungle warfare.

“The forces were ambushed when the band of 400-500 Naxals had an advantage as our men were tired after staying for two nights in the jungles,” a very senior CRPF officer told HT.

Top police and CRPF officials will visit the massacre site on Thursday to take stock of the situation.