CRPF Inspector Parmanand (37), recovering in a government hospital here after being attacked by Maoists in Narayanpur district of Chhattisgarh on Tuesday, is a shattered man. “I wish I had died with my colleagues,” he told HT before recalling the fateful encounter in which 26 of his colleagues were killed on the spot and another died in hospital on Wednesday.
“We were returning to our camp in the afternoon when all of a sudden bullets began raining on us. Taken aback, we ran to take positions but it appeared the Maoists were in a larger number — maybe more than 200 rebels. They were wearing black uniforms,” Parmanand said.
The inspector said bullets were fired on the CRPF group from trees and a hilltop. Parmanand got three bullets in his waist but continued to fire back.
“The Maoists were shouting that none of us should be spared. We shifted our injured colleagues to safer areas as the encounter continued. The Naxalites were using modern weapons like AK-47s and SLRs,” he said.
“Ever since we ventured out around 6 o’clock in the morning to open a road, the rebels must have been keeping track of our movements. But we did not have any inputs on their huge presence nearby,” he said.
“At one point of time I didn’t know whether to drag away my injured colleagues or keep retaliating,” said CRPF jawan Vishwanath, who was also in the same hospital as Parmanand.
The gun battle went on for nearly three hours. But the CRPF men could not contact anyone for help as they did not have any satellite phones, and there was no mobile phone tower within range.
“The Maoists also blocked the roads by felling trees and dug up roads leading to the ambush site to prevent reinforcements from reaching us,” said Parmanand.
Many of the inspector’s injured colleagues were hacked to death by the rebels. Autopsies revealed that as many as 10 bodies bore wounds inflicted by sharp-edged weapons.
“The cops who fell unconscious ... might have been killed by the rebels who came near the bodies to snatch the arms after the encounter,” a CRPF officer in the Raipur Medical College Hospital said.