NIA takes over probe into Maoist ambush that killed 22 personnel
Officials familiar with the development said NIA began investigating the attack after taking over case documents from Chhattisgarh police earlier this month.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has taken over the probe into the April 3 ambush on security forces by 350-400 Maoists in Chhattisgarh’s Bijapur district, in which 22 personnel were killed and a jawan was taken hostage.
One of the deadliest ambushes in recent times, the attack was led by commander of Battalion-I of the Maoists’ People’s Liberation Guerilla Army (PLGA), Hidma, who is wanted for major attacks in the state over the past 15-16 years.
Officials familiar with the development said NIA began investigating the attack after taking over case documents from Chhattisgarh police earlier this month. NIA has named some top commanders of Maoists – including Hidma, Nabbala Keshav Rao alias Raju (general secretary of the outfit), Mupalla Ladksman Rao alias Ganpati (former general secretary), Venugopal alias Bhupati, Sujata, Nagesh, Prashant – apart from 350-400 cadres in its FIR.
Sundarraj P, Inspector General of Bastar, said: “The central government issued a notification for an NIA probe in the matter following which the state government issued directions to the officials concerned to hand over the case documents to the central agency”.
Security forces had launched an operation on April 2-3 after receiving information that top commanders of the Maoists, including Hidma, were gathered near village Tekulgudiyam, Jhiram, in the territory of Tarrem police station in Bijapur.
Close to 1,700 personnel from different camps in Bijapur and Sukma began a combing operation on the night of April 2, but the next day, around 10.30am, they were trapped by Maoists from three sides and fired upon.
Initial reports stated that Maoists had emptied the villages in the area before the attack, which suggested they had prior information of the movement of forces.
A Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) commando, Rakeshwar Singh Manhas, was also taken hostage by Maoists but he was released after four days.
The agencies had refuted any intelligence failure but blamed poor planning and coordination for so many casualties.