EVMs damaged in Thursday’s Maoist attack lie strewn around the bus in Dumka on Friday. Picture by Pankaj Singh
Ranchi, April 25: Director-general of police Rajeev Kumar today admitted to a “major strategic mistake” of boarding vehicles, a day after Maoists attacked a van-and-bus convoy of poll and security personnel in Dumka’s Shikaripara, killing eight persons, including policemen from Bihar, and injuring 11.
Speaking from Dumka over phone, DGP Kumar said: “From the start, we had decided on using no four-wheelers in super-sensitive pockets. But, yesterday a section of security forces diverted from the prescribed strategy after the final round of polling. This proved very costly.”
Some polling officials who are injured and admitted to RIMS and Apollo Hospitals in Ranchi were more forthcoming about the “strategic mistake”.
They said the tragedy could have been averted if policemen and officials had followed CRPF advice of walking with election paraphernalia, including EVMs, to the nearest “cluster” 4km or 5km away. Instead, a mid-level poll official, referred to as the sector magistrate, insisted they follow his van in a bus to deposit all election materials to a strongroom in Dumka town, 40km away.
Fifteen minutes into their journey the rebels attacks started.
The DGP did not indulge in blame game but said they would probe how boarding the vehicles was decided upon. “Give us time, we are trying to analyse the situation threadbare,” DGP Kumar said.
Kumar and CRPF DIG M.V. Rao as well as other top police brass rushed to Dumka this morning where the deceased, comprising five policemen and three poll officials, were laid to rest with full honours at district headquarters.
Chief minister Hemant Soren and JMM supremo Shibu Soren were present during the farewell ceremony. However, the chief minister did not make any announcement on compensation.
Chief electoral officer of Jharkhand P.K. Jajoria told The Telegraph that repolling would be held at two booths 100, 101 under Dumka constituency. But the date is not final.
“Polling at the two booths stands cancelled. The seals of EVMs of 101 are broken while papers of 100 are missing,” he said, adding they were awaiting detailed reports from Dumka DC Harsh Mangala.
Senior BJP leader and former chief minister Arjun Munda today urged chief election commissioner to order a high-level inquiry into the ambush, alleging that since Soren Senior was contesting from Dumka, fewer central paramilitary forces were deployed in highly sensitive areas to facilitate rigging.
The office of the chief electoral officer, Jharkhand, has revised voting percentages for the four constituencies that went to polls on Thursday.
While Rajmahal recorded 70.33, Dumka notched 69.76, Godda 65.99 and Dhanbad 60.58 per cent voting. Overall, voting percentage was 66.06.