press club of india, Indian Tehalka News
A very grim tale of a complete failure of command within the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) during the Maoist attack in Chhattisgarh on December 1 has emerged that resulted in the death of its 14 personnel. Sources in the CRPF have revealed that over 200 troops were kept waiting for more than an hour and a half in a Maoist stronghold by their commander after he was summoned for a meeting by CRPF’s Inspector-General (Operations) in Chhattisgarh, HS Sidhu, who was camping 400 metres away. When the Maoists attacked, the troops of the CRPF’s 223 Battalion were without command that led to utter chaos among them. What is more intriguing is that although the IG was present in such close proximity with 250 troops, he chose not to come to the rescue of his men.
The CRPF troops were on a SADO (Search and Destroy Operation) and had started at 06.30 am from Hill number 406 in Sukma district where they had camped for the night. As the party, comprising of over 100 troops of the 223 Battalion, 100 commandos of the CRPF’s CoBRA force and 1 policeman, under the command of Sanad Kamal, commandant of 223 Battalion, approached Kasalpada village, they were asked to halt there while Kamal went away to meet the IG. This is the same area from where a chopper of the Indian Air Force was fired at by Maoists on November 21.
After the meeting with the IG, Kamal, as instructed, joined another party of troops belonging to 74 Battalion. But this was not communicated to his troops who kept waiting for him. In fact, according to sources, his deputy, BS Verma kept on asking him if they could move away from the open area, but was asked to “hold ground”.
Eyewitnesses have told The Hindu that after a while, the troops became too relaxed and broke into small groups. Some began to prepare Maggi noodles while a few ventured too close to the village. At 10.30 am, a group of 50-60 Maoists, hiding in the village, opened fire on them. They had put snipers atop trees who shot at the CRPF personnel with accuracy.
The IG finally reached the spot at 2.30 pm, according to sources, followed by commandant Kamal.
In Delhi, CRPF’s IG (Operations), Zulfiquar Hasan, said a high-level inquiry had been initiated. “We are taking it seriously and lapses, if found, will be dealt with severely,” he said.