Police officers trying to track down Maoists involved in the massacre of 76 security personnel in Chhattisgarh on Thursday said they had clues about the location of the rebels, but a thick forest cover and a heavily mined area were proving to be deterrents in the combing operation.
"A unit of the Maoist military unit Peoples' Liberation of Guerilla Army (PLGA) involved in the massacre is resting in a forest cap between Kistaram-Gollappalli-Konta stretches in Chhattisgarh near the Andhra Pradesh border," a member of the police team overseeing the operation told IANS from Jagdalpur, headquarters of the Bastar region.
"But stepping into this terrain means sure casualties until we clear the landmines buried there."
Chhattisgarh's director general of police, Vishwa Ranjan is stationed at Jagdalpur after the killings, to keep the morale of the forces up in the hostile terrain spreading over 40,000 sq km. Ranjan told reporters Thursday at Jagdalpur: "The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) miscalculated the ambush point on Tuesday."
The source, who is well-placed in the police set-up, said: "Dozens of police contingents have been combing the forests for the second consecutive day. The focus of the hunt is based in two blocks, Sukma and Konta. But despite having a tip off about their location, the forces can't enter blindly in the Maoist trap because removing landmines in this part of forest will take months and lot of technical skill."
Top Chhattisgarh cop Ranjan has refused to alter the anti-Maoist strategy in the backdrop of Tuesday's killings.
"For the morale of the police, we will keep hitting the Naxal (Maoists) heartland.
"We will continue with operation with more alertness, no need for a change in strategy, they (Maoists) have to pay heavily for what they have done," said Ranjan, a former district superintendent of Bastar.