Thousands of policemen on Wednesday combed the hostile jungle terrain in Chhattisgarh's Bastar region to track down Maoists responsible for Tuesday's massacre of 76 security men but failed to make any headway, officials said.
"The forces are doing their best in jungles. Those who orchestrated ambush Tuesday, in which we lost 76 colleagues, are hiding somewhere close to Chhattisgarh-Andhra Pradesh. We are determined to stamp them out," S.R. Kalluri, deputy inspector general (DIG) of police posted in Dantewada, told IANS.
At least 75 Central Reserve Police Force troopers and a Chhattisgarh policeman were massacred by Left-wing rebels in the dense forests of Dantewada Tuesday. The attack is the deadliest by the Maoists in over four-decade-old insurgency.
Kalluri said the police personnel engaged in anti-Maoist operations in Dantewada district are highly upset over the killings and will retaliate in more "aggressive and appropriate manner".
Dantewada Superintendent of Police Amresh Mishra said, "We are not scared of anything, we have capability to hit back any moment. But we don't like to share everything with media on what's going on in jungles now. But it's sure the killers will have to pay a heavy price."
Officials at the state police headquarters here, who were earlier claiming that "Maoists are running for cover from one forest to another", are now tight-lipped.
A police intelligence wing official said, "It's a big jolt to the entire police department. The Tuesday attack has pushed us on backfoot. But it's a temporary situation, we will overcome them and come harder on their (Maoists) bases."
The incident has also shocked the state's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party which was claiming that Chhattisgarh is the lone state that has begun effectively countering Maoists challenges.
"The state has lost total control in Bastar. Chhattisgarh is the fit case now for president's rule, otherwise situation will further deteriorate," Chhattisgarh state Congress general secretary Ramesh Varlyani told IANS.