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Govt appoints new CRPF and ITBP chiefs, will meet to discuss Sukma ambush

The home ministry will meet Thursday to discuss the Sukma ambush in detail. Ahead of the home ministry’s meeting, the government also named new chiefs for the CRPF and the ITBP.

india Updated: May 10, 2017 10:49 IST
Rajesh Ahuja
Rajesh Ahuja
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Home ministry,Sukma ambush,CRPF
Injured CRPF jawans being airlifted to Raipur by an IAF chopper for treatment on Monday following a Maoist attack in Sukma district. The Union home ministry will meet on Thursday to dissect the ambush which left 25 CRPF troopers dead.(PTI)

The Maoist ambush at Sukma which left 25 CRPF troopers dead will be dissected threadbare at a meeting of the Union home ministry on Thursday, a day after the government finally appointed a new chief for the country’s largest central armed police force.

The government which had come under fire for not naming a regular chief of the CRPF for almost two months, appointed Narcotics Control Bureau chief Rajiv Rai Bhatnagar, a 1983 batch IPS officer, as the director general of the force. CRPF additional director general Sudeep Lakhtakia was acting chief of the force since the retirement of its last director general K Durga Prasad on February 28. Bhatnagar will get more than two and a half years at the helm as he is slated to retire on December 31, 2019.

On Wednesday, the government, seemingly chastened by the CRFP appointment fiasco also named senior IPS officer Ranjit Kumar Pachnanda as the new director general of the Indo-Tibetan Border (ITBP), two months ahead of the superannuation of the incumbent chief.

Lakhtakia and the home ministry’s senior security advisor K Vijay Kumar returned to the national capital late Wednesday after assessing the ground situation in the Maoist stronghold Sukma for the last two days.

They will meet Union home secretary Rajiv Mehrishi on Thursday to give first-hand account of what went wrong in Sukma on Monday when Maoists ambushed a CRPF Road Opening Party (ROP) which was deployed for providing security to a road construction team.

“There is palpable anger over the ambush and loss of lives. Something must have gone wrong. Either the standard operating procedure (SoP) for deployment of the ROP was not followed at all or followed wrongly. We are waiting for the report from Lakhtakia and K Vijay Kumar,” said a senior home ministry official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The official added that the CRPF brass will have to ensure that SoPs are not violated at all.

“It is like a checklist of a pilot before flying. So the checklist should be ticked every time the units go out in the field,” added the official.

The home ministry is also looking for ways to provide eyes in the sky to security personnel who go deep inside the Maoist territory.

“We have drones that keep hovering over the Maoist territory but their cameras cannot penetrate the dense foliage in the area. There are foliage penetrating radars that claim to see below the dense greenery but we are told that technology is still not perfect. We will again try to find out more details about it,” said the official.

As far as planning an offensive against the Maoists is concerned, the forces need to keep themselves safe first before then they can mount an offensive, the official added.

In the daily intelligence briefing on Wednesday, chaired by home minister Rajnath Singh, the Sukma attack and its aftermath came up for discussion.

First Published: Apr 26, 2017 21:20 IST