B. Madhu Gopal
Chitrakonda (Orissa): Not much headway could be made in the retrieval of bodies of the Greyhound constables who met with a watery grave following an attack by Maoists on their launch in the Balimela reservoir, despite concerted efforts by the Andhra Pradesh and Orissa police, Greyhounds and the Navy.
Only five bodies could be recovered till evening on Thursday. This brings the total number of bodies retrieved during the last four days to seven. Rescue efforts are being hampered by the fact that the launch sank into the reservoir that is more than 100 feet deep. Many bodies are trapped in the cabin of the overturned launch.
The spot where the firing took place is located in between hills, about 5 km away from the Balimela dam ferry point. The rescue teams which pitched tents on the hill slope said efforts were being made to cut open the cabin of the launch to retrieve the bodies. A launch was positioned exactly on the spot where the ill-fated launch sank and scuba divers were lowered into the water with the help of ropes. The divers were pulled up using the ropes when they ran out of oxygen.
As the retrieved bodies surfaced on the water one after the other, Greyhounds Inspector General Rajiv Trivedi and Greyhounds SP Vinit Brijlal rushed on boats and personally pulled them ashore before ferrying them in launches to the ferry point. SP (Visakha Range) Akun Sabharawal wrote the names of the dead Greyhound constables on the coffins at the ferry point before sending them to the nearby helipad for being airlifted to the King George Hospital (KGH) in Visakhapatnam for post-mortem.
Rescue workers said it would take at least two more days for retrieval of all the bodies. The operation is being done amid heavy security as over 1,000 Greyhound constables took positions on the hills and all around the dam site.
The bodies retrieved on Thursday are identified as Ranjan Kumar Khora, a constable of the Chitrakonda police station in Orissa, Md. Salahuddin of Mahabubnagar district, the third was suspected to be of SI Sankar Rao of Munchigput Police Station, the fourth of Kiran of Karimnagar and the fifth yet to be identified.