The policemen injured in a Maoist ambush in Chhattisgarh's Sukma district have questioned the manner in which a small force was sent into a rebel stronghold for a search operation and the lack of reinforcements during a fierce gun battle that killed seven of their colleagues.
The injured members of the Special Task Force, being treated at Ram Krishna Care Hospital in state capital Raipur, shared their agony over the traumatic situation faced by them during the attack. They claimed they were provided “no backup support” after they were targeted by no less than 200 Maoists, including women rebels, on Saturday.
The Maoists ambushed the STF squad at Pidmel village, about 450 km south of Raipur.
“A squad of 50-odd jawans of the STF left from Polampalli at around 2.30 am and we were asked to reach an area close to Pidmel. We halted for five to 10 minutes to relax when the Maoists began spraying bullets on us from different directions,” said Kisse Dewa, one of the 10 policemen injured in the attack.
Sanjay Lakda, another of the injured, wondered why a small squad was sent for a cordon-search-destroy operation in an area known as a hotbed of the Maoists.
“Some of our colleagues fell to Maoist bullets, we scurried to take positions. The encounter continued for over two hours,” said an injured jawan who was upset that no backup forces were sent to reinforce the ambushed men.
It took more than 25 hours for security forces to retrieve the bodies of the seven dead policemen from the site of the ambush because of bad weather and inhospitable terrain. Over 300 personnel from the state police, CRPF and the elite Cobra forced marched to the spot to recover the bodies.
Another injured personnel said the policemen countered the Maoist attack and managed to get to safety on their own.
“We were left with no option except to leave our dead colleagues while we struggled to escape," he said.
Brig (retired) B K Ponwar, an expert on guerrilla warfare wondered, “What was the mission of this operation, who planned this operation and with so much force available in the area, what was the follow-up undertaken to recover the weapons or nab the rebels?” he said.
There have been several major Maoist attacks in Sukma district in the past. In 2013, Chhatisgarh Congress chief Nand Kumar Patel and former state minister Mahendra Karma were killed along with several of their security personnel when their convoy was attacked in the region.