|The IED found inside Babulal Patel’s body and (above) members of the disposal squad that defused the bomb at RIMS in Ranchi on Wednesday. Pictures by Hardeep Singh
Ranchi, Jan. 10: Maoists had savagely implanted a “pressure bomb prototype” in the abdomen of a CRPF jawan, after he was killed in an ambush in Latehar three days ago, with the possible intention of inflicting heavier casualties during air-lifting of the body.
The appalling and unprecedented rebel strategy came to light when doctors at Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) — conducting an autopsy on 29-year-old Babulal Patel late last night — found fresh, but crude, stitches running up from his navel.
The CRPF brass was informed and bomb disposal squads brought in. A 2kg IED was found inside him this morning, which was deactivated using a water jet mechanism and later subjected to controlled explosion.
Experts said it must have taken the Maoists more than an hour to cut open the body, remove a part of the intestines and plant the bomb, which was powerful enough to blow up a landmine-proof vehicle and cause extensive damage to life and property within a 10-metre radius.
“The IED was a pressure bomb prototype, which explodes on being disturbed,” a senior CRPF officer told reporters, indicating that if the body was ferried by Latehar’s rugged roads, another fatal mishap was inevitable.
The chopper, which brought the dead jawan to the government hospital in Ranchi last night, was manned by two pilots and had two CRPF jawans for assistance. The four had a narrow escape.
A CRPF constable, who was in the chopper, heaved a sigh of relief. “Had the bomb exploded in flight, we would be all dead by now,” he said.
RIMS director Tulsi Mahto said six bodies had been brought from Latehar for post-mortem last night.
“Five were of CRPF jawans and one of a civilian. When doctors removed the fatigue of one jawan around 10pm, they found stitches, which were not done with clinical precision. This, triggered their suspicion,” Mahto said.
Dr Vinay Kumar, who was a part of the four-member post-mortem team, pointed out that the stitches were crudely continuous. “We, normally, leave gaps. Besides, there was no inflammation, an indicator that the sewing up was done after death,” he said.
DIG of CRPF’s medical wing Vinod Kumar Shukla was informed and the bomb disposal squad of Jharkhand Jaguar called in.
The experts indicated metallic substance inside Patel’s stomach, which was confirmed as an IED by a second squad of specialists.
R.K. Rana, the head of the bomb disposal team from Hazaribagh police training centre who reached RIMS around noon today, said the IED was defused after efforts that lasted for four hours.
“The bomb was prepared using an iron container that looked like a car filter and was connected with batteries attached to a pressure release device and detonator. It was designed in such a way that any disturbance (like jerk in a vehicle or cutting open of the stomach) would have caused it to explode,” he said.
Rana further said that they located the position of the IED with an RTVS (real-time viewing system) and then used a water jet to snap circuit connection. Once it was removed from the body, the IED was exploded in a controlled way in a deserted area on the hospital premises.
The disposal expert admitted that the experience was a first for him too. “I have never defused a bomb in a body before. The idea is so barbaric and inhuman,” he added.
IG (operations) S.N. Pradhan conceded that the Maoists’ appalling plan was unprecedented. “They have crossed all limits. We have decided to learn about different bombs and their defusing techniques from the NSG so that we are better prepared in the future,” he said.
Thirteen people — nine CRPF personnel, a Jharkhand Jaguar jawan and three civilians — were killed in the encounter and in its aftermath at Amuatikar forest, 40km from the Latehar district headquarters, since January 7.
After the ambush on Monday, Maoists had put the body of a critically injured and incapacitated jawan over a landmine, in an action reminiscent of Oscar-winning Bosnian war film No Man’s Land, to cause casualties on Tuesday.
An explosives expert said that had the Maoists used the same “tilt IED” inside Patel like they did in the case of the other CRPF jawan, mere lifting the body would have triggered an explosion. He added that the way the bomb was planted in the body confirmed presence of several specialists among the rebels.