The team of 49 STF men which ventured into the Maoists’ “liberated zone” on Saturday morning, had reportedly not informed senior police officers based in Bastar and Sukma before embarking on an operation which eventually proved “suicidal.” Seven personnel, including the Platoon Commander, Shankara Rao, were gunned down by the Maoists.
Bastar range Inspector General (IG) of Police, S.R. Kalluri was on leave and had gone out of Chhattisgarh because of a death in his family.
Speaking to The Hindu on the way back to Bastar after his leave was cancelled, Mr. Kalluri maintained that it was “a standalone STF operation” without any participation of the district police or the CRPF.
“Platoon Commander Shankara Rao had called Sub Divisional Police Officer Dornapal that night, who asked him to speak to the SP. The SP did not have any discussion with Shankara Rao before he left for the operation,” claimed Mr. Kalluri.
Additional Director General of Police, R.K.Vij who is in charge of the STF, however said that there was “some discussion” between Sukma SP D. Srawan and Shankara Rao before the operation.
“But there will be an inquiry into this and we will look into it,” Mr.Vij added.
When reached for his reaction, Mr. Srawan said: “It is a departmental matter so I would not be able to speak to the press about it.”
According to some police sources, the Sukma SP received two calls from some unknown numbers, possibly from Shankara Rao, which were disconnected without a word, so he presumed that the STF platoon commander would not move into a sensitive area without consulting him.
A reliable source told The Hindu that Shankara Rao’s call logs suggest that he called up the Deputy Inspector General of STF, J. Sharma, at about 11.30 p.m. on Friday. “There is a possibility of Shankara Rao briefing the STF DIG about his movement which means Mr. Vij was also in loop since the Bastar IG was not in Bastar,” revealed a police officer based in Bastar requesting anonymity.
Mr. Sharma could not be contacted for his reaction.
“No police or paramilitary officer, even with a low IQ, would have ordered the STF team to move into south of Dornapal when the Maoists’ tactical counter offensive campaign is on,” said a senior police officer in Bastar.
Who asked Shankara Rao to go on a “suicide mission” is the question agitating everyone.
“Shankara Rao got some very enticing and misleading information about the Maoists and he went ahead with the operation. Whenever an operation is undertaken, a proper SOP is followed, including a backup party. The CRPF is also alerted. The STF also does not usually operate in a single team, there is always a backup party. Nothing of this sort seems to have happened in this operation. Since I was on leave, they (STF) were not to go there at all,” said Mr. Kalluri, adding that no officer would allow a single STF team to go south of Dornapal.
17 mining vehicles torched
A day after killing seven policemen in an ambush in Chhattisgarh’s Sukma district, Naxals set ablaze at least 17 vehicles engaged in mining work in insurgency-hit Kanker district on Sunday, police said. No one was injured.
A group of armed Naxals raided the Barbaspur iron ore mining site under Korar police station limits and after threatening the labourers, torched 17 vehicles engaged in mining work, Kanker Superintendent of Police Jitendera Singh Meena told PTI.
The Maoists then fled into the forest, he said.
The extremists are reportedly opposing iron ore mining in the area undertaken by Neco Jayaswal Company.