Recovery of a rare video on the outlawed CPI (Maoist) purportedly getting trained to shoot down helicopters has raised concerns for the Chhattisgarh government, which will identify the vulnerable areas in strife-torn Bastar division where the helipads exist.
The left-wing extremists have presence in 16 out of the 27 districts of Chhattisgarh and the seven districts of Bastar zone continues to be the Maoist hotbed. On various earlier occasions the rebels had targeted helicopters used by security forces. There are around thirty helipads in the Bastar zone alone.
“We are examining the video footage and will take appropriate measures to counter any threat. There are helipads located in vulnerable regions but most of the helipads are either built near the police stations or close to the base camps. We will go for enhanced vigilance and security action”, the additional chief secretary (Home) N K Aswal told Hindustan Times.
The video clip shows around 15-20 Maoists in uniform taking different positions on the ground and aiming at a 'dummy' chopper a suspended on a rope tied to trees at both ends. The rebels are seen engaged in various strategic techniques and positions as they focus on their target with light machine guns (LMGs).
The Maoists often look for soft targets and the chopper is one of them, opined the guerrilla warfare expert Brigadier (Rtd) B K Ponwar. “Helipads located in the vulnerable areas should be re-located tactically and occupying the higher grounds in and around the helipads like hillocks etc during the landing and take-off of a chopper”, the Brigadier told HT.
The threat perception is now higher since the Maoists had recently looted several modern automatic weapons included Under Barrel Grenade Launcher (UBGL) of the security forces in Bastar. The powerful UBGL capable of launching air bursting grenades and has an effective range of some 400 metres distance to target.
The Bastar superintendent of police Ajay Yadav said that the helipads are usually safe but the risk is usually during the take-off or landing of the chopper in an open area and the the rebels might take positions at higher hilly areas.
“The guidelines have been issued by the state police headquarters on ensuring the safety of a chopper flying low close to helipads, how much distance from helipad the forces should cover”, said Yadav.
Around half-a-dozen helicopters in the remote strife-torn forested terrain of Bastar region are pressed into valuable services during emergencies like air-lifting the jawans injured in Maoist violence, assist in ferrying cash for the banks or taking rations for security personnel in remote areas. VIPs and VVIPs too use the choppers to move in these areas.
Watch: Maoists being trained to gun down choppers in Raipur