The CRPF had three specific intelligence inputs on the presence of armed Naxals in the jungles of Dantewada, but it appears that senior officials of the CRPF and state police jointly messed up — both at the planning and execution levels.
Senior state police officials said the decision wasn’t taken in isolation. CRPF and state police knew of the Naxals’ presence and dispatched 80 men only after working out a detailed movement plan on the map.
The brass of the CRPF and police too had information on the central forces’ movement, they added.
Copies of the intelligence reports, accessed by HT, reveal that Chhattisgarh DIG (SIB) Pawan Deo sent three specific inputs between March 12 and 31 to the police and CRPF officials, on the presence of 200 to 600 Naxals in the area.
On March 12, for example, the SIB told about about the presence of 600 Naxalites, many of them women, in Jagargunda (Dantewada district), about 10 km from the site where the 76 securitymen were massacred in Tadmetla forests on Tuesday.
The reports even gave a description of their locations on the map with all coordinates.
One report said the Naxals were being led by Maoists central military committee (CMC) deputy commander Kananna.
Similarly, on March 16, the state intelligence informed the officials about the presence of 150 armed Naxalites between Jagargunda police station and Surpanguda village.
The March 31 report suggested the movement of 15-40 Naxals at locations such as Chintanar, Chintagufa and Jagargunda.
Home Minister P. Chidambaram on Wednesday said there was no intelligence failure and the forces had been sent to the jungles between April 4 and 7 to dominate the area.
A senior IPS officer who served in the Naxal-infested Bastar region, however, said: “In Bastar alone, the Naxals have eight companies of highly trained armed guerillas who not only know the topography well but have even counted the trees… even their branches. Any day, they have an advantage over our men in jungle warfare. Yet, we decided to send 80 men to dominate the area is little surprising.”