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CRPF slams cops over attack

Motihari, April 14: Senior police officers have come under fire from the CRPF for being “ill-equipped” to take on Maoists during the ongoing general election in the state.

The commandant of the 153rd battalion of CRPF, Param Shivam, said on Monday that the CRPF lost three personnel, including deputy commandant Indrajit Singh, in Aurangabad last week. They were killed while defusing improvised explosive devices (IEDs) recovered during anti-Maoist operations ahead of the first phase of elections.

The commandant lamented that Maoist-affected districts in Bihar are not equipped with bomb disposal squads. There was no chopper either for surveillance on the movement of Maoists in their influential pockets and for rescue operations in those areas, he said.

Shivam said the force had requested the state administration to deploy well-equipped bomb disposal squads in every Maoist-affected district during election. It has also requisitioned for choppers in rebel areas on the pattern of Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand. The commandant further said: “While the two Maoist-hit states — Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand — have been provided adequate helicopters for air surveillance and rescue operations, Bihar has no such facility.”

The CRPF is engaged in operations against the Maoists. Shivam, who was in Motihari to pay floral tributes to the deceased CRPF personnel, said their lives could have been saved but for delayed arrival of the chopper from Ranchi. “It is surprising that several Maoist-affected districts like Sitamarhi, Sheohar and East Champaran — identified as worst affected — have no bomb disposal squads,” he said. The commandant said the central force would teach Maoists a lesson. “Whenever we get an opportunity, we will retaliate for the incident,” he told reporters.

But the CRPF commandant’s statement on preparedness to take on Maoists has not gone down well with the state administration. An additional director-general of police (ADG) in the police headquarters claimed most districts in south-central and north Bihar have been allocated bomb disposal squads. He said the district armed police personnel were imparted training to defuse bombs. “It is a fact that several districts are in the process of creating their own squads,” he said, adding that all divisional headquarters have been equipped with such a facility.