The Maoists had laid a three-kilometre-long ambush to trap the team of Special Task Force (STF) which ventured into the “liberated zone” without any back-up on Saturday morning.
Speaking to a local TV channel at a Jagdalpur hospital, Ranjeet Kumar, a jawan who was wounded in the encounter, said, “We were attacked thrice even after running for over two kilometres. They [Maoists] must have been more than 400 and the ambush was spread over three kilometres.”
The jawan said a team of only 51 STF jawans left from Pollampalli camp at 2 a.m. on Saturday morning.
“We were going towards Pidmed, 13 km from Pollampalli. We stopped at a location to have breakfast. After finishing breakfast, we found that we were surrounded by Maoists from all sides. Before we could take positions, they started firing. Our team leader, Shankar Rao, was killed in the first burst,” he said.Second ambush
Sensing heavy presence of Maoists, the rest of the jawans ran towards the Kankerlanka police camp, but the Maoists laid the second ambush in the Kurrapad hill.
“Some of us were killed near the hill. The third ambush was laid at a stream after the hill where a few more jawans were killed and several others wounded. The last exchange of fire lasted more than an hour. Somehow the rest of us managed to reach the Kankerlanka camp,” said constable Kumar.
Superintendent of Police D. Srawan confirmed that only 51 STF men had set out from the Pollampalli camp. Mr. Kumar said the Maoists might have taken the weapons of two jawans killed in the third ambush.
The statements of the wounded jawan put a big question mark on the planning of the Bastar police.