Maoists could kill 12 CRPF men and polling officials and two others in Chhattisgarh on Saturday as security personnel themselves ignored specific intelligence warnings and violated the standard operating procedure (SOP), Intelligence officials say.
The police and Central Reserve Police Force teams accompanying polling parties in the Tongpal and Darbha areas were warned not to travel to Jagdalpur, they add. But they did that and also violated SOP by boarding an ambulance.
“Our team leader, Inspector N.K. Rai, was feeling uneasy after the road-opening process was almost completed near the Darbha Valley. He decided to board the ambulance “Sanjivani 108” because the Maoists had never targeted one before,” said Anil Singh, constable with the 80 battalion of the CRPF, who was on the ambulance.
The ambulance was blown up within five minutes of their boarding it.
“Someone must have seen our jawans getting into the ambulance and alerted the Maoists who triggered the blast with utmost precision,” Vikas Tiwari, another constable, said.
Arun Dev Goutam, Inspector General of Police (Bastar Range), said “boarding the ambulance” was a violation of SOP.
B. Ramarao, a polling official injured in the Ketulnar attack, said, “We were deployed for polling duty on April 8 and were being brought out by the CRPF teams. We walked for many kilometres, but those with some health problems decided to go by bus. There were no security personnel in our bus, but many police vehicles were following us.”
In both incidents, the blasts were reportedly carried out by a person or two and the explosives were planted months ago.
However, R.K. Vij, Additional Director General of Police, Naxal Operations, Chhattisgarh, refused to comment when asked about the intelligence warning being ignored. On the CRPF personnel boarding the ambulance, Mr. Vij said, “It could have been avoided.”