Disregarding all the rules and Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), a team of 10 police and BSF men led by BSF Assistant Commandant Vivek Rawat and sub-inspector Avinash Sharma walked into a Maoist trap on Monday.
Avinash Shukla and constable Sonu were killed in the encounter which took place near Hawalbaras village under Bande police station of Kanker district of South Chhattisgarh.
An anguished officer involved in anti-Maoist operations in Bastar said: “It was suicidal. You don’t move in a Maoist area with 10 men on bikes. Even five Maoists could have finished all our men.”
The officer, who wished to remain anonymous, also claimed that the rest of the personnel who were injured in the encounter were “lucky.” “All of them could have been killed in what seems like a trap,” he said.
Head constable Omkar Banjara, who was a part of the team, said except Mr. Sharma and Mr. Rawat, no one else knew what the plan was. “Six of us, including Mr. Sharma, left the Bande police station and proceeded towards Talbadi road. Mr. Rawat and his men joined us on the way but suddenly our officers decided to change the plan and go towards Hawalbaras,” Mr. Banjara told The Hindu .
Around 25 to 30 Maoists started “indiscriminate” fire on the security personnel around one km from the village at around 1.30 p.m. The encounter lasted about an hour and a half and Mr. Sharma and constable Sonu were badly injured in the first fire, informed Mr. Banjara.
Some photographs of the encounter spot accessed by The Hindu shows Mr. Sharma and Mr. Rawat in formal clothes with goggles on.
Maoists managed to take away one AK-47, one 9-mm pistol and a magazine with 30 rounds. Asked about the “complete violation” of the SOP, Kanker Superintendent of Police Ranjan Das said: “We are speaking to the injured and concrete conclusions cannot be made now.”
“But our men fought bravely for more than an hour ensuring that the damage was minimum,” he added.