Cobras on booby trap hunt - Work at night to clear path

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By PRONAB MONDAL
  • Published 26.06.09
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Goaltore, June 26: Around Thursday midnight, 190 members of the CRPF’s Cobra unit left the base camp here with one brief: sanitise the 6km stretch of paddy fields past Pingboni and up to the forest that starts before Kadashole.

The Cobras split into two groups and fanned out about 2km deep into the fields on either side of the road.

“We knew the entire stretch would be full of improvised explosive devices,” an officer said.

“But unlike mines that explode on pressure, these devices have wires and need to be detonated. So the Cobra force personnel were told to find out if there were any Maoists lurking in the paddy fields to do the job.”

The Cobras were armed with sniper rifles with night-vision telescopes and told to shoot Maoists at sight.

Police said the operation was successful as the Maoists could not detonate any of the explosive devices they had planted along this stretch and which were eventually either defused or destroyed through controlled blasts by experts from the CID’s bomb squad.

Initially, when operation Lalgarh began at Bhimpur last week, there were only 40 members of the Cobra unit. Yesterday, 150 more were sent to Goaltore, where the first batch was already stationed.

Today, after the operation ended at Kadashole for the day, the Cobras made a security ring around the camp that had been set up over there.

Early tomorrow morning, a few hours before the force sets out for Ramgarh and resumes its operation, the Cobras will spread out into the forests and sanitise it so the force does not face any resistance.

The forest ends about 1km from Ramgarh, so nearly 5km of it would have to be sanitised.

The police said the Cobras had been instructed to go around 500 metres deep into the forest.

“In any case, the force has been instructed to fire mortars into the jungles, whether or not they spot any Maoists,” an officer said.

“This way, we can reduce resistance to the minimum because the forests provide good cover for the Maoists.”

Once in Ramgarh, the Cobra jawans will take position there ahead of the advancing forces.

This is being done because under pressure from the forces, some of the Maoists may attempt to flee the jungles and take shelter in Ramgarh.

The police said the Cobras waiting there will be the “reception committee” waiting to greet the fleeing Maoists.

“We are hoping that some of them will fall into this trap,” an officer said. “But for that we will have to wait for tomorrow.”