The Telegraph
Wednesday , February 5 , 2014
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Terrain setback for forces

Hazaribagh, Feb. 4: The combing operation at Parasnath Hills in the wake of the January 27 Maoist ambush on a rescue team at Dhaulkatta forest on Giridih-Dhanbad border has failed to yield any success, prompting CRPF and Jharkhand Jaguar to call off the exercise as of now.

According to CRPF, the difficult terrain hindered the search operation, which was launched soon after the Maoists triggered 22 landmine blasts that killed one CRPF jawan and injured 13 when they ventured into the territory to rescue abducted Prime Minister’s Rural Development Fellow V. Sai Vamsi Vardhan and three MGNREGS workers.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a CRPF officer, who was part of the operation, said: “The combing operation was called off on Saturday evening as we were unable to achieve any breakthrough.”

Listing the challenges they faced, the officer said: “As we stepped inside the hills on January 27, we encountered tall bushes having a height of 10feet to 12feet. We had to use a cutter to trim them and then make our way. The thick overgrowth reduced visibility to almost zero during daytime as well.”

The Maoists made the most of the topography and planted the landmines on the upward routes that forces find better to tackle in comparison to the tall bushes, he added.

“It was not easy to conduct a thorough search of the hill. The Maoists were always at an advantage as they have full knowing about all the exit routes to Bengal via Dhanbad. Chalking out a strategy on paper and carrying it out on the ground is two different things. In a day, the forces can hardly move 7km-8km because of the dense forests and low visibility,” the officer said.

The combing team, according to him, had reached the spot where the rebels had kept the four hostages. “But we got nothing as the Maoists had escaped much before we reached,” he added.

Asked whether there were chances to revive the operation, he said they were still receiving inputs from villagers and state intelligence teams. “There is a possibility to start afresh from tomorrow, but at certain pockets of Parasnath Hills,” the officer said.

According to sources, the jawans had found 25 more landmines on the hills, which were defused later.

Of the injured jawans, two were taken to Delhi, where their legs were amputated.

Confirming this, CRPF commandant Munna Kumar Singh said: “Sub-inspectors Sushil Kumar and A.M. Dewrekar lost their legs. Sushil’s left and Dewrekar’s right legs had to be amputated at AIIMS three days back. The landmines that were blown off were of low intensity, which was part of the Maoist strategy to hurt jawans physically.”

At present, only two jawans — Shobhit Jha and Balwir Tirkey — are undergoing treatment at Apollo hospital, Ranchi. They are out of danger. Six others have been discharged. Three more are in AIIMS, but their condition is well now.