A commando in one of the Central Reserve Police Force’s CoBRA battalions has been forced to cool his heels in a camp in Chhattisgarh because he says he refused to cooperate with his seniors on concocting lies about an encounter with the Maoists. The commando, Sujoy Mandal, requires immediate medical attention for serious injuries sustained in his leg during a Maoist ambush in Chhattisgarh in April this year. But he is not allowed to seek treatment for his injuries or move out of the camp.
According to Mr. Mandal, the encounter took place on the morning of April 9 in Chintagufa area of Chhattisgarh. The F Company of the 206 CoBRA was accompanying a poll party to Buraklanka village. While returning, Mr. Mandal says they urged their deputy-commandant, Ramesh Kumar Singh, to follow the standard operating procedure of forming two columns instead of one. This is done to ensure that in case the Maoists attack, the two can take positions separately to prevent the Maoists from surrounding them. “But he snapped at us. He said he is the boss,” says Mr. Mandal.
Soon afterwards, a Maoist guerrilla squad was spotted. By that time, six men, including Mr. Mandal had moved ahead. “The DC asked us to move in the same direction,” says Mr. Mandal. They came under heavy fire but fought back. Mr. Mandal says he fired several grenades from his UBGL (Under barrel Grenade Launcher). But, soon, three of the CoBRA soldiers lay dead. One of them was a cousin of Mr. Mandal, Chandrakant Ghosh. Mr. Mandal says he (Ghosh) was on “light duty” – non-combat duty assigned to a medically unfit soldier. “He had put it on record during his roll-call, but the DC forced him to come,” alleges Mr. Mandal.
As Mr. Mandal watched, the Maoists dragged the body of the slain commandos and took away their weapons. Mr. Mandal alleges the DC had kept his satellite phone and extra rounds of ammunition with one of the slain commandos, S Ranbir. These were looted as well.
It is only after the Maoists left the site when the rest of the CoBRA forces appeared. These included assistant commandant, Rishi Kumar.
According to sources in the CRPF, both Ramesh Kumar Singh and Rishi Kumar’s name has been recommended for President’s Police Medal for Gallantry. It is also believed that Mr. Singh had not even done his Pre-Induction training that every soldier – jawan or officer – is supposed to complete before he joins CoBRA.
Since then, Mr. Mandal is struggling to get his injured leg treated properly. But he is not allowed out of the camp. “I am under acute stress, I am breaking down,” he says.
IG (Ops), CRPF, Zulfiquar Hasan said an internal inquiry has been instituted.