Charging the authorities with "misusing" and "ill-treating" the Eastern Frontier Rifles (EFR), which lost 24 of its men in a Maoist attack in West Bengal on Monday, a senior officer of the force on Saturday claimed that his men had killed five ultras after being attacked.
Coming down heavily on state authorities, particularly West Midnapore superintendent of police chief Manoj Verma, for not providing proper infrastructure, EFR Special Inspector General Benoy Chakraborty told reporters that the decision to locate the Silda camp in a crowded area was "unprofessional".
"From the location of the camp and the poor infrastructure and security provided, one can conclude the EFR is being misused and ill-treated," a fuming Chakraborty said.
"I have on several occasions said it was not the proper place for the camp and wanted it to be shifted. I told the SP also. But he did not shift the camp," he pointed out.
"Now a lot is being said against me and my people. We are being blamed. I respectfully choose to differ with the critics," he said.
The EFR is a paramilitary force of the West Bengal police.
Chief Minister Buddahdeb Bhattacharjee and Home Secretary Ardhendu Sen have blamed lack of alertness on the part of the EFR jawans in the camp for the incident.
Chakraborty pointed out that the camp was located near a market and beside a health centre. "There was only one toilet which outsiders also used. There was no proper boundary wall for protection. The spot was close to a crowded market".
He said the tents housing the jawans were situated so close to each other that the jawans did not even have the manoeuvring space if they wanted to shoot while going from one tent to the other.
"Despite such adverse conditions, they shot dead five Maoists. I am proud of them. What they have done is indeed great," he said.
Twenty four EFR personnel and a civilian were killed in the daring Maoist attack on the Silda camp in the district.