Celebrations of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP's) resounding victory in Uttar Pradesh turned into a low-key affair in party-ruled Chhattisgarh as Naxalites laid a deadly ambush and killed 12 jawans of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in the state's restive Sukma district on Saturday morning.
Three jawans were injured in the incident that took place near Kottacheru under the bhejji police station – about 450 Km from here – at around 9.30 am. The security personnel from the 219th battalion of the CRPF were engaged in providing security cover for the road construction project in the area.
The state government is constructing a road between Dornapal and Jagargunda in a patch of 58 Km. The rebels had been opposing road projects fearing that they would facilitate the movement of forces in the pockets that they have claimed to be their “liberated zone”.
A team of 120 jawans was on a road security mission when they walked into the ambush laid by the rebels. As the jawans came in range, Naxalites, who had taken up positions, opened indiscriminate fire. The troops immediately took positions and retaliated but lost 11 jawans in the first hail of bullets from the rebels. One jawan succumbed while being evacuated. After a brief gunbattle, the Naxalites retreated into the forests.
Bastar’s Acting Inspector General of Police P Sunderraj said that reinforcements were rushed from nearby camps to the spot. The security personnel evacuated the injured personnel and bodies. The injured were airlifted and admitted here.
As many as 11 camps are located between Dornapal and Jagargunda.
Intelligence agencies had feared that such a deadly attack was imminent as the Naxalites had been on the backfoot and had failed to inflict any major damage in last one-and-a-half years. As part of their modus operandi, the rebels often conduct major attacks to show their presence.
The attack comes at a time when the “tactical counter offensive campaign (TCOC)” observed by the rebels is also underway. During summer, when long grasses and dry bushes are prevalent, the rebels launch such campaigns as the conditions make clear visual identification of force movement possible.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has condemned the incident and talked to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who would be visiting the spot.
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh termed the incident as “cowardly act” and said that the extremists were frustrated with the development of the road network in the region.