Central and State government leaders on Wednesday paid their last respects to the 76 CRPF personnel killed in the deadliest Maoist attack on security forces on Tuesday in the jungles of Dantewada.
Home Minister P. Chidambaram, who flew in here from New Delhi via Raipur, placed a wreath in front of the bodies of the slain jawans, 75 of whom belonged to the CRPF. One head constable of the State police deputed with the paramilitary unit was also killed in the attack on Tuesday.
Mr. Chidambaram also met some of the family members of the dead jawans.
State Governor Shekhar Dutt, Chief Minister Raman Singh and senior State police and paramilitary officers also paid their homage to the personnel.
The Home Minister is expected to review the Maoist menace at a high-level meeting with the State authorities.
The personnel, who appeared to have walked into the Maoists’s “trap”, were killed in the Mukrana forests of Dantewada district, one of the strongholds of the Maoists.
The personnel were returning to the base camp as part of a joint operation when they came under fire from hill features just about 4 km away.
Virtually an entire company of the CRPF was wiped out when 75 of its personnel including Deputy Commandant Satyawan Singh Yadav and Assistant Commandant B.L. Meena were killed.
The attack shook the Centre and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh held a meeting with Mr. Chidambaram and assessed the situation. Both of them expressed shock over the attack and grief over the loss of lives.
Prime Minister had called it a “horrific” incident.
The mood was sombre as Mr. Chidambaram silently walked up to the coffins of the 76 CRPF personnel killed in the worst-ever Maoist attack.
A bugler sounded the “Last Post” for the CRPF soldiers who laid down their lives for the country’s fight against Maoists when the Home Minister turned up at a public ground here, 315 km from State capital Raipur, to pay his last respects to the slain soldiers.
It was an incident that shook the Union Government and strengthened its resolve to fight left-wing extremism, which Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has termed as the biggest threat to country’s internal security.
Silently, the 64-year-old Mr. Chidambaram walked up to the coffins of the CRPF personnel which were draped in the tricolour.
As he placed a wreath, a CRPF soldier sounded the “Last Post” to bid adieu to the jawans. Then a paramilitary contingent reversed its arms in honour of their fallen colleagues.
Later, homage was paid by Mr. Dutt and Mr. Raman Singh besides other senior officials of the para-military and State police forces.