The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) recently set up two new camps in south Bastar that have caused great discomfort to the Maoists, a senior Home Ministry official said.
The two new camps, Palondi and Potokpalli, were operationalised in January in Sukma district in the “core area” of the Maoist stronghold.
On Tuesday, nine CRPF personnel were killed when the mine protected vehicle (MPV) they were travelling in was blown up by triggering an improvised explosive device (IED). Due to the IED’s impact, the armoured MPV was thrown about 10 feet in the air and crashed on the ground before splitting into pieces.
The CRPF team was ambushed close to the camps, and the IED could have been “pre-laid.” The newly-constructed road is the only one in the area connecting the camps.
Hours before the MPV was ambushed, over 150 CoBRA commandos were engaged in an encounter with Maoists a few kilometres away and the latter were forced to retreat, said a senior Home Ministry official.
‘Taken a beating’
Senior Security Adviser, Left Wing Extremism (LWE), K. Vijay Kumar said the Maoists had taken serious hits in the past couple of months. “The Maoists have taken a serious beating in this area and the sighting of two new CRPF camps has caused a great discomfort to them. We will continue to maintain forward posture in these areas,” Mr. Kumar told The Hindu .
A senior Home Ministry official said the area is dominated by PLGA Battalion 1, the armed wing of the CPI (Maoists). “The area is dominated by the virulent group led by Hidma. The construction of this road had made the entry of security forces in these areas easy and it was being resisted by the Maoists,” said the official.
CRPF DG R.R Bhatnagar said the IED was either triggered by a remote device or with the help of a wire when the MPV was passing and it was a targeted attack.
“There were two MPVs in the convoy and the vehicle of the Superintendent of Police was a few metres ahead. The road is still under construction,” said Mr. Bhatnagar.
He said the security forces had not gone to these areas before. “The Palondi camp was opened in January. It is said to be the core area of the Maoists and we are challenging their dominance,” Mr. Bhatnagar said.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh said the incident was “deeply distressing.” “My heartfelt condolences to the families of those personnel who lost their lives in the Sukma blast. I pray for the speedy recovery of the injured jawans,” he said.