In one of the deadliest ambushes of security forces by Naxalites, the lives of 25 CRPF personnel were lost in Sukma, Chhattisgarh. The victims were the member of 74th CRPF battalion, and were posted to oversee road construction work and tasked with providing security for the workers as well.
At around 12:25 PM of 24 April, the Maoists mounted the assault in Kalapathar area of south Bastar region, catching the security forces by surprise. The patrol came under fierce gunfire from 300-strong Maoist guerrillas occupying vantage positions, inflicting heavy casualties on the personnel. The soldiers retaliated and killed many of them. However, the bodies of the guerrillas are yet to be recovered. The women wing of the group also joined the attack.
Raghubir Singh, an Inspector-rank officer and the company commander was among those killed. The Naxals were also believed to have looted over a dozen weapons of the slain personnel.
Bodies of all the deceased 24 personnel were airlifted by the Indian Air Force, and the seven wounded were rushed to a medical facility in Raipur for treatment. Later, one of the soldier succumbed to the injuries inflight.
“We are yet to account for all the personnel and a search is on. Around 7 to 8 boys are still missing,” the Press Trust of India quoted a CRPF officer as saying.
Meanwhile, CRPF Cobra teams have launched a major search operation to nab the Naxalites involved in the slaughter and to recover the stolen arms and ammunition.
According to an injured soldier, the Naxals first identified their location through their informants among the villagers after which around 300 Naxals divided into several groups and launched the attack with an IED blast followed by indiscriminate firing, which took the soldiers by complete surprise. They used arms like AK-47 and INSAS rifles, many of them looted from previous attacks.
The attack took place in Bastar
The incident happened in the hotbed of Naxal violence, Kalapathar area of south Bastar region, the region has seen a number of such attacks in the past resulting in high casualties.
While condemning the Attack, PM Narendra Modi said “Attack on CRPF personnel in Chhattisgarh is cowardly and deplorable. We are monitoring the situation closely. We are proud of the valor of our CRPF personnel. Sacrifice of martyrs will not go in vain. Condolences to their families.”
Attack on @crpfindia personnel in Chhattisgarh is cowardly & deplorable. We are monitoring the situation closely.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) April 24, 2017
Despite various efforts by the government to reduce Maoist violence in the country, Naxal attacks have still persisted. Over the last decade, the number of attacks and fatalities have fluctuated.
This was the second major attack on CRPF personnel in 2017. On March 11, twelve CRPF personnel were killed in the same area. Four personnel were also injured in the attack.
The Communist Party of India (Maoist), also known as Naxalites, was founded on September 2004, following the merger of two of India’s far-left outfits: the Maoist Communist Centre of India (MCCI) and the Communist Party of India-Marxist-Leninist (People’s War).
However, the beginning of the Naxal/Maoist movement can be traced back to late 1967.
The Maoists are believed to be present in at least 20 states but are most active in Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Bihar, Jharkhand, and Maharashtra.
The main objective of the Maoists is to change India’s governance system and to establish a communist state. The CPI-Maoists call this a “democratic revolution, which would remain directed against imperialism, feudalism and comprador bureaucratic capitalism.”
Previous major ambushes:
On 15 February 2010, several of the guerrilla commanders of CPI (Maoist) killed 24 personnel of the Eastern Frontier Rifles at Silda in West Bengal.
On 6 April 2010, the Maoists ambushed and killed 75 paramilitary personnel who fell into the trap laid by the lurking Maoists.
On 25 May 2013, the CPI (Maoist) ambushed a convoy of the Indian National Congress at Bastar, and killed 27 people including Mahendra Karma, Nand Kumar Patel and Vidya Charan Shukla.
The Logical Indian take
The Logical Indian community condemns the cowardly terrorist attack on our forces in Bastar. We hope the state and central governments will take swift action against the perpetrators and take appropriate measures to defeat the internal insurgency of the Maoists.