A CRPF officer being transferred to an Indian Air Force helicopter in Aurangabad on Monday. Picture by Sanjay Choudhary
Gaya/Patna, April 7: At least three security personnel, including a deputy commandant of CRPF, were killed and six others suffered injuries today when a landmine they were defusing went off in Aurangabad district.
The injured persons, including Dhibra police station house officer (SHO) Amar Choudhary, have been admitted to the Aurangabad sadar hospital.
The incident occurred when improvised explosive devices (IEDs) — found on Banua-Jharna road — were being defused by the CRPF personnel. A search operation was launched this morning in the area, around 130km south-west of Patna, as Maoists had called to boycott the Thursday poll.
Additional director-general of police (law and order) Suresh Kumar Bhardwaj confirmed the death of two CRPF personnel — Pawan Kumar and T. Panna Rao. The CRPF deputy commandant, Indrajit Singh, was airlifted to Ranchi for treatment but he died there.
Sources said the four IEDs were detected on a busy road around 1pm. The delay in the arrival of the bomb disposal squad from the district police headquarters reportedly compelled the security personnel to initiate the process of defusing the bombs. But the bombs suddenly went off, leaving the two CRPF jawans dead and causing injuries to seven others, including the deputy commandant of the CRPF who died later.
The explosion was so powerful that the tremor was felt in a radius of around 2.5km. The explosion sent shockwaves among the local residents, who ran helter-skelter for safety.
Auranagabad superintendent of police Upendra Kumar Sharma said the injured Dhibra SHO should not have allowed the CRPF personnel to defuse the explosives till the arrival of the bomb disposal squad.
Aurangabad additional superintendent of police (operations) Rajesh Kumar Bharti said the search was launched as part of area domination exercise ahead of the elections. “I am shocked to learn that the bombs exploded while they were being defused,” he said.
A senior CRPF officer said: “It seems that the IEDs were interlinked.” He claimed that the Maoists were watching the movement of the force from a close distance. Soon after the blasts, shots were fired on the security personnel and even attempts were made to disrupt the movement of the armed forces. The place of occurrence is hardly 500 yards away from the Dhibra police station.
COBRA battalion deputy commandant Trilok Nath Singh said the bombs were being defused by a joint team of the CRPF and the police. “One of the bombs suddenly went off, leading to a string of blasts,” he told The Telegraph.
The incident has exposed inept handling of the IEDs by the police. The headquarters had earlier announced to deploy bomb disposal squads in each district, especially in the areas identified as Naxalite-hit. Even specialised training was imparted to the bomb disposal squad members.
During the 2010 Assembly elections, a member of the bomb disposal squad was killed while he was defusing a bomb in Gaya’s Banke Bazaar.