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Naxal attack: Same old story, cops ignored rules

Guidelines say cops should take public transport, unmarked vehicles in Naxal-hit areas, but Jharkhand team was travelling in a mine-protected vehicle. Aloke Tikku reports.

delhi Updated: Jan 23, 2012 08:35 IST
Aloke Tikku
Aloke Tikku
Hindustan Times
Naxal-hit areas,mine-protected vehicle,Aloke Tikku

As another team of policemen lost their lives to a Maoist landmine in Jharkhand, a quick analysis of the Garhwa attack by the Centre has attributed the deaths to police officers flouting guidelines that advise against travelling to the hub of rebel activity in a mine-protected vehicle.

Over a dozen policemen-travelling in a mine-protected vehicle (MPV)-were killed when suspected Maoists triggered a landmine and took away their weapons on Saturday.

The policemen were escorting the block development officer (BDO), who was returning from a remote village after resolving local grievances relating to health facilities.

According to the safety guidelines devised by anti-naxal experts at the Centre, the policemen should have taken a public transport vehicle or travelled in unmarked vehicles.

"Travelling in an MPV that can only withstand explosives up to 20 kg in broad daylight is inviting trouble," a central police official said, insisting that while there could be tactical setbacks during operations, Saturday's casualties appeared to be an "avoidable loss" of precious lives.

Incidentally, home minister P Chidambaram had emphasised on getting policemen to follow safety guidelines when he wrote to chief minister Arjun Munda earlier this month.

Chidambaram's letter followed an assessment at the home ministry on the need for Jharkhand to be more systematic and proactive in dealing with the Naxal challenge, particularly after policemen escorting MP Inder Singh Namdhari were killed in a landmine under similar circumstances.

Government officials said the state government could expect another letter from the ministry advising them to pull up their socks, particularly since the state accounted for the largest number of naxal violence in 2011.

A home ministry official said they had taken note of the incident and would continue to support efforts by the state government to rise to the challenge.

First Published: Jan 22, 2012 23:17 IST