Around 300 Maoists tracked CRPF personnel for three days in the jungles of Tarmetla before the April 6 ambush, in which 75 CRPF personnel and eight Maoists were killed, according to Ramanna, secretary of the South Bastar regional committee of the CPI(Maoist) and architect of the attack.
In a rare interview, conducted in the Jagargunda forests in Chhattisgarh's Dantewada district, Ramanna alias Ravula Srinivas gave a detailed account of the planning and execution of the attack. If true, his account offers an insight into Maoists' intelligence and military capabilities.
“Our lookouts spotted trucks carrying tents, cement and food supplies on April 3. On the same day, we also spotted about 15 CRPF soldiers moving between the Chintalnar and Chintagupha camps, but we didn't have enough numbers to mount an ambush,” he said.
The Maoists withdrew to the forests and lay in wait for the patrol party. It spent three days roaming the jungles surrounding the CRPF camp in Chintalnar before withdrawing to the villages near the main road for dinner. “They would stop for a few hours to eat and rest before going back into the jungle,” Ramanna said.
On the night of April 4, the Maoists set up an ambush deep in the forests, but the force managed to avoid it. Instead, as reported previously by The Hindu , the force carried out a search operation near Tumnar (also known as Thokul) near Tarmetla.
“By April 5, we realised that the force was mainly patrolling the areas near the main Chintalnar-Dornapal road and decided to ambush the road instead,” said Ramanna. At 3 a.m. on April 5, the Maoists received information that the force was near Mukram.
At 5 a.m. on April 6, three Maoist companies (about 300 fighters) surveyed the main road and decided to attack from a hillock two km from Mukram. At 5:30 a.m., the CRPF personnel left Mukram and reached the site of the attack by 5:50 a.m.
“The CRPF spotted our fighters near the main road and opened fire,” Ramanna said, contradicting reports that the patrol party was attacked first. “We opened fire from a Light Machine Gun (LMG) set up at the base of the hillock and started suppressive fire from the top of the hillock.”
Under the cover of the LMG fire, two groups of Maoists to the left of the CRPF moved on to the main road, forcing the CRPF jawans to move into a wide field adjacent to the road, while another company — hidden in the vegetation at the far end of the field — flanked the CRPF from the right.
Caught between three distinct groups of fighters from the road on their right, the field on their left and the hillock straight ahead, the CRPF personnel perished in a hail of gunfire.