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Sniffer dogs, beepers failed CRPF

Bokaro, Jan. 21: Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) headquarters in New Delhi today ordered a high level probe into why sniffer dogs and anti-landmine devices failed to detect the explosives that blew up at Jhumra forests yesterday around 4.45pm, injuring 11 CRPF personnel, three seriously.

The four landmine blasts at Jhumra, barely two weeks from the Latehar gun battle that claimed 10 security personnel and four civilians, are being seen as a warning from insurgents against a 14km road being constructed by the state.

The road, between Rahawan and Jhumra, is being built for Rs 18 crore and will link the rebel-hit area with the mainstream.

What is not clear is why landmines went undetected despite ground clearance measures taken by the 16 personnel of CRPF’s 26th battalion when Intelligence Bureau reported Naxalite presence in the area.

Highly placed CRPF sources said it needed to be ascertained how patrolling forces carrying anti-landmine beepers or sniffer dogs could not track landmines planted at Jamnijara Lodian forest zone in Jhumra under Mahuatand police station.

Intelligence Bureau had been reporting Naxalite movement in Nawadih and Gomia zones the since past three days. But it had failed to pinpoint where the series of 10 powerful explosives connected with wires and IED devices were planted more than 14 hours before the four blasts took place at 4.45pm on Sunday.

That is why a dog squad led by trainer Manoj Kumar had made rounds of the area around noon, four hours before the blasts. According to reports, personnel held anti-landmine devices during patrol.

“An inquiry on the lapses had begun but it was too early to say what exactly went wrong and where the error occurred,” the commandant of 26th CRPF battalion Sanjay Kumar said.

Insiders said the real game plan of Maoists was to go for the series of blasts during noon and ambush the CRPF patrol team of the 26th battalion. However, the blasts occurred at dusk. CRPF personnel crawled towards the deep jungle zone while launching a heavy firing offensive for 45 minutes.

“Though a series of 10 explosives were planted, only four blew up one after another. Alert CRPF personnel retaliated with heavy firing that may have forced Maoists to flee. There was no counter-firing,” Sadan Kumar, deputy commandant of CRPF said.

Calling it a desperate move of Maoists, Sanjay Kumar added the war against them would step up. “We will not allow them to take liberties,” he added about the high-risk area that is a rebel entry and exit point from five states.

North Chotanagpur IG Murari Lal Meena told The Telegraph that intelligence networking on the lines of Greyhounds in Andhra Pradesh will be strengthened and policemen would learn from Sunday blasts on how to tackle Maoist attacks effectively. The three seriously injured are undergoing treatment at Apollo Hospitals, Ranchi.

The other eight, who received minor injuries, received first aid.


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