Under attack for his disparaging remarks about the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Chhattisgarh's police chief Vishwa Ranjan on Friday praised the paramilitary force that has lost more than 100 men to Maoists since April.
"Except one or two adverse incidents, you can't question the professionally trained CRPF that has fought anti-insurgency battles from Jammu and Kashmir to northeastern states," Vishwa Ranjan said after coming under widespread criticism for his earlier remarks on the CRPF.
He accused a television news channel of airing his earlier statement "without giving the full context ... which is not appropriate".
Commenting on the spate of attacks on the CRPF in Chhattisgarh's Maoist bastions, Vishwa Ranjan had said earlier that he couldn't "teach the CRPF troopers how to walk".
A shocked CRPF, which had paid the biggest price thus far in the campaign against Maoist guerrillas, Friday described the police chief's comments as "shocking"
A CRPF assistant commandant said he was stunned.
"No one wants to die deliberately. We are being hit hard in Chhattisgarh and we will surely get over this worst phase. But I was not expecting that the Chhattisgarh (police chief) will question us publicly. His remarks are shocking and hurting," the officer, posted in Bijapur in Bastar region, told IANS.
Vishwa Ranjan, a former additional director in the Intelligence Bureau, made the first statement when journalists sought his comments in the wake of repeated killings of CRPF men in the state by Maoists.
The police chief said Friday evening that his remark had been taken out of context. He now showered praise on the CRPF, calling it a "professionally trained" force.
The Maoists massacred 75 CRPF personnel in Dantewada in Chhattisgarh April 6 and 27 more security personnel, almost all of them from the CRPF, in Narrayanpur June 29.
Vishwa Ranjan had also earlier slammed the CRPF for not taking intelligence inputs seriously.
The CRPF officer said: "The statement has pained us because there are several things that can't be said publicly. It should have been discussed only in closed-door meetings."