Under fire, CRPF op to be reviewed
Home secretary RK Singh is set to undertake a comprehensive review of the CRPF on Wednesday.Updated: Jul 04, 2012 01:06 IST
Home secretary RK Singh is set to undertake a comprehensive review of the CRPF on Wednesday.
Though it would have been seen as a regular quarterly exercise under usual circumstances, the review attains significance in the light of the recent shooting incident in Chhattisgarh.
Officials are expected to put their heads together to answer a key question - how to operate at night without causing any 'collateral damage'.
The CRPF has come under intense pressure for the encounter in Basaguda, Bijapur, where it conclusively identified only four Naxals among the 17 persons killed.
Medical reports of those killed indicate that while some died due to single bullet injuries, others received multiple gun-shot wounds.
"We are not saying we picked our targets. Some were Naxals, and a few civilians may have died in the retaliatory fire," a senior CRPF officer told HT.
One of the issues to be debated in the meeting between ministry of home affairs and CRPF personnel is, how can you dismiss the killing of civilians - including a girl and at least two teenage boys - as collateral damage?
In the June 29 encounter, the CRPF teams moved towards Silger in Bijapur from three different directions.
However, when the troops coming from Basaguda reportedly came under attack near Sarkeguda, they opened fire in retaliation. It was only after first light that they arrived at the village to find 17 bodies.
"Normally, we undertake such operations only after surveying the thick jungle routes mapped by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). But UAVs have not been functional and dependable," an official based in Chhattisgarh said.
The joint operation of the police and CRPF was conducted on the basis of "precise intelligence inputs" from the Andhra police on the movement of a naxal military company in Silger, considered to be a part of Bastar's liberated zone, MHA sources said.
The encounter occurred at Sarkeguda, much before security forces could even reach Silger. Now, the question facing security forces is - how can they operate at night if liberated areas have to be breached?
While there have been instances of security personnel holding back during the day after seeing armed Maoists taking cover behind women and children, what can they do after dark, when even night vision devices cannot help them distinguish between a villager and a Jan Militia member?
Will this incident affect night operations? Will the liberated zones remain liberated? How can the state ensure civilians are not killed?
The questions remain.