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Multiple units join Chhattisgarh rescue effort

CoBRA commando abducted by Maoists, search on

Chhattisgarh: multiple units of security forces fan out in jungles to look for missing soldier from Jammu

Our Bureau, Agencies New Delhi Published 05.04.21, 03:40 PM
CRPF personnel carry the coffin of a jawan who lost his life in an encounter with Maoists, in Bijapur district of Chhattisgarh on Sunday.

CRPF personnel carry the coffin of a jawan who lost his life in an encounter with Maoists, in Bijapur district of Chhattisgarh on Sunday. PTI

Security agencies are working to ascertain a claim made by naxals that they abducted a CoBRA commando after the ambush in Chhattisgarh on Saturday that left at least 22 security personnel dead, official sources said.

A top officer in the security establishment said that they have "reasons to believe" that this claim, made over phone on Sunday evening to a journalist based in Bijapur by a purported Maoist group, is true.


"We have not been able to locate commando Rakeshwar Singh Minhas of the 210th CoBRA battalion till now. However, we do not have concrete evidence to substantiate the claim made by some naxal elements that he has been taken away by them," a senior officer told PTI.

He said multiple units of the security forces are still out in the jungles to look for the commando who hails from Jammu, and also to intercept movement of the ultras.

Constable Minhas was with the unit that went out for the anti-Naxal operation on Saturday morning. His friend, another officer said, was killed in the ambush in which 22 troopers were killed and 31 others injured.

The Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA) is the specialised unit of the CRPF that was raised in 2009 to undertake intelligence-based operations against Maoists and insurgents in the north east.

Out of the 22 fatalities in the Saturday naxal attack, the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) lost eight men, including seven CoBRA commandos, while one jawan is from the Bastariya battalion, eight from the DRG and five from the Special Task Force.

Senior CRPF officers, state police officials along with Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel are in Jagdalpur to review the situation in the aftermath of the deadly attack.

Over 10 rebels killed

Senior officers claimed more than 10 Maoists had been killed in Saturday’s encounter but other sources said the police had found the body of a lone rebel — a woman. The Maoists are known to carry away their dead and injured.

Unofficial accounts by CRPF and state police sources suggested the insurgents had laid a trap for the forces in the middle of a five-pronged anti-Maoist offensive, but inspector-general of police (Bastar Range) Sundarraj P dismissed any “meticulously planned Naxal ambush”.

“The security forces fought bravely and inflicted a heavy blow on the ultras during the face-off,” PTI quoted Sundarraj as saying.


Sources said five teams totalling 2,000-plus security personnel had on Friday night launched a concerted operation in the Maoist-hit Bijapur and Sukma districts after learning that rebels led by the dreaded Madvi Hidma had gathered in the forests in large numbers.

The operation was launched from five places — Tarrem, Usoor and Pamed in Bijapur, and Minpa and Narsapuram in Sukma.

While a team was advancing through the forests near Jonaguda, around 500km from state capital Raipur, it was ambushed by some 250 Maoists on Saturday afternoon, a CRPF officer said. He said the forces were scattered and trapped along a 2km stretch of forest.

A senior police officer gave PTI a somewhat different account. He said some 400 Maoists had strategically positioned themselves on a hillock in front of Tekalguda village and around it.

The patrolling team from Tarrem came under heavy fire, prompting some of them to move to what appeared a deserted village, where the Maoists lay in wait for them.

Visuals from the spot showed slain jawans lying in the fields and on the village streets, PTI added.

It quoted an eyewitness as saying the jawans' bodies had bullet injuries and gashes inflicted by sharp weapons.

The Maoists fled with the weapons, bullet-proof jackets and the shoes of the dead troops, sources said.


Sources in the security establishment said that initial reports suggested an intelligence failure and poor leadership on the part of the CRPF, which reports to Union home minister Amit Shah.
“The commanders did not handle their men properly and counter the ambush,” a security official said, requesting anonymity.

“The Maoist leadership is said to have been giving arms training to its cadres for the past few months in the jungles. They were well prepared and our jawans walked into the trap and were slaughtered. Who is accountable for this intelligence and operational failure?”

He added: “Has this government fixed any accountability for the gross intelligence failures in the Pulwama massacre and the Chinese intrusion in Ladakh? These killings are likely to go the same way.”

CRPF chief Kuldiep, who rushed to Chhattisgarh from Delhi, denied any intelligence or operational failure on the part of the country’s top anti-Maoist agency.

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