|The SUV in which the slain jawans were travelling
Raipur, May 14: The six CISF jawans who died last night in the Chhattisgarh Maoist ambush were just over 100 metres from the National Mineral Development Corporation plant where they were posted as guards.
Had they reached the spot where they were to get off their SUV, the jawans could have taken position and put up a fight, however brief.
But the Maoists, around 50 in number according to estimates of local villagers, were lying in wait in a nearby wooded area and they fired when the vehicle started rolling up a slope. Beyond the slope, the jawans were to walk about a 100m to reach the NMDC campus that they were supposed to guard last night.
The first one to be hit was driver Bisuram Bacheli, a Dantewada resident. He died at the wheel.
The jawans got no time to get off, according to police. All died in the vehicle.
“The jawans were supposed to disembark just 100m away (from the plant) and had that happened, they could have taken position and retaliated,” a police officer in Dantewada said.
The police found gashes on the jawans’ bodies, which suggested that the rebels had struck them with axes or some other sharp weapon after killing them.
Before leaving, the rebels snatched five Insas rifles, an AK-47, some hand grenades and five bullet-proof jackets. According to the police, a preliminary investigation suggested looting arms was the motive.
The six jawans were identified as head constable Subhash Chandra from Karnataka, and constables P.C. Meena, A.K. Verma, K.C. Meena and Ranjit Singh, all from Rajasthan, and Jayanta Das of Assam.
Dantewada district, where the attack happened, is a Maoist hotbed. Kirandul, the area where the ambush took place around 9pm yesterday, is about 450km from state capital Raipur.
In 2006, an NMDC storehouse for explosives was raided by Maoists near Kirandul. Eight CISF men had died in that attack. The rebels escaped with 60 tonnes of explosives meant for blasting rocks and mining iron ore.
After last night’s attack, work was stopped at the mines. It resumed only this evening.
Employees who were inside NMDC during the firing were allowed to leave around midnight after reinforcements reached the spot.
The CISF director-general, Rajiv Kumar, and other top officers today visited Kirandul and inspected the spot.
He also held a meeting with the senior police officers.