Naxal attack in Gadchiroli leaves 15 security personnel dead
MUMBAI: Barely 10 ten hours after 27 vehicles were allegedly torched by Maoists near Dadapur village in north Gadchiroli, a reinforcement party of the Quick Response Team (QRT) of the Kurkheda police travelling to Purada (the police station under whose jurisdiction the arson incident was reported) was attacked in a landmine blast.
All the 15 men and the driver of the private vehicle engaged by the police were killed in the blast, carried out by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED).
While the police said the standard operating procedure (SOP) in sensitive zones keep changing and is tweaked as per requirement, the reason as to why the QRT party didn’t take a road opening party (ROP) will be inquired into. Some lapses like not using an armoured vehicle and not pressing two private vehicles while ferrying personnel were also noticed.
The IED blast occurred around 12.30 pm on Wednesday near Lendhri area, a few kilometre from Kurkheda in north Gadchiroli.
Earlier, around 2 am on Wednesday, 27 vehicles including cement mixers, dumpers and trucks belonging to Amar Infrastructures Ltd, used for the construction of the Purada-Yerkad sector of National Highway-136, were torched near Dadapur in Purada village. Police said the QRT was sent to Purada as reinforcement. Many of the QRT men were tribal youth from the adjoining areas.
“This was a case of a classic trap deployed by Maoists. First, use arson to force the police to send reinforcement and then attack the reinforcement party by placing landmine blasts. Ideally, in such cases, an ROP is a must. It is a golden rule. However, in this case, it wasn’t pressed. This shows that it was a case of poor planning,” said a former senior IPS officer.
“Also, the SOP clearly states that reinforcement should not be sent as a knee-jerk reaction and that the details of the route taken by the police party is only with the unit commander. The fact that the blast took place on a busy tar road on which many vehicles would have had to ply before the incident reveals that the attackers had specific information of the time and the vehicle details in which the QRT party was travelling,” he said.
“The accused would have sat in ambush and triggered the IED when the vehicle reached the designated spot. In an ordinary Maoist attack, a landmine blast is followed by an exchange of fire. But, in this case, since there was specific input, the latter wasn’t required… This only indicates that somebody from within had leaked the information on the movement of the men,” the official said.
Speaking to the press, DGP Subodh Jaiswal said the Maharashtra police will give a fitting response to the attack and, if need be, even carry out cross-border strikes.
The incident comes at a time when Maoists are observing a week-long protest to mark the first death anniversary of 40 of their comrades who were killed by security forces last year in two separate encounters in Gadchiroli district.
While the Kasanasur encounter was a joint operation of the C-60 commandos and battalion 9 of the CRPF, the Rajaram encounter was carried out by the C-60 commandos.