Cops tread slow, bodies 'missing'
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- Published 22.12.07
Raipur, Dec. 21: Chhattisgarh police have failed to reach the encounter site where Maoists and the police clashed yesterday evening and from where 12 personnel went missing.
An Andhra Pradesh regional news channel, however, aired clips in the evening showing 12 bodies lying on the spot.
The search parties from base camps located at Golapalli and Kisteram areas started off in the morning. However, till the evening, the Chhattisgarh parties had reportedly failed to reach the area, even after 24-hours. “The difficult terrain is causing problems, besides the search parties fear red ambush at places, which makes them move even slowly,” conceded Bastar inspector-general of police R.K. Vij.
The officer also admitted that the television crew could have reached the spot from Bhadrachalam or Khammam (both in Andhra Pradesh) — which is a quicker path.
“As far as the police are concerned, the parties are near the spot but have not reached the exact place,” he added.
Once the police parties confirm, he would be in a position to speak about the number of casualty officially.
Vij added that the search operation would be resumed again on Saturday morning and said it would take another 14 to 16 hours to get the “official picture”, and understand what had happened yesterday.
The dozen police personnel who went missing yesterday were a part of a 33-member police party that fell into an ambush laid by the rebels near Tarlaguda some 500-km south of state capital — in Dantewada.
While 21 jawans returned to the police station, there was no information about the 12 others.
The jawans were returning to Golapalli from Kisteram when Maoists attacked about 5pm. Of the missing jawans, eight are from the Special Armed Force, while four belong to the district force.
“But we do fear that the 12 men have either been killed or are being kept hostage by the Maoists,” said a senior police official in the police headquarters. However, another official ruled out the second possibility stating: “There is no top officer in the team who can prove to be of use to the rebels.”
In such cases, villagers usually provide information to the police if they discovered the bodies. But this time, that network, too, seems to have collapsed. The senior officers in Dantewada are still hopeful to get some clue by late night.
“Two to three search parties are still in the forests. We are hopeful that they would send us some message. But we are not expecting anything before late night,” the officer at the headquarter added.