The expensive unmmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) deployed in Chhattisgarh remained dead birds due to the lack of ground intelligence on the presence of large numbers of heavily armed Maoists in and adjoining Sukma.
The drones or UAVas are sent on sortie to pick images from uninhabited jungles of Chhattisgarh after security forces intend to confirm intelligence inputs they get about the presence of ultras in a particular area.
The information picked up by the Drones is used for various purposes including for tactical moves and to carry out combing operations.
In this case, sources said that drones did not fly in that region due to a lack of intelligence on possible ambush. The deadly silence ultimately cost a whole generation of Congress leaders in the state.
Sources said Maoists’ east Bastar division committee held a meeting in their Jeram’s jungles hideout around May 15 where the attack was planned.
However, it is believed that no input of such meeting or Maoists movement was forwarded to security forces.
The militants had selected the ground for ambush carefully which had hillock on the one side and a valley on the other.
There was also clear violation of standard operating procedure as no road opening party was sent before the VVIP convoy hit the road back to Raipur around 3:10 pm on Saturday from the venue of Parivartan Rally in Sukma.
A senior official said they were returning from the same road as there was no other alternate route in that area to reach Raipur. A road opening party for 5 km requires at least a company of Para forces. It is impossible to secure 100 km in that area with available strength of forces on the ground.
Around 3:30 pm, the convoy crossed Tongpal where Paramilitary forces are deployed. Maoists targeted the second vehicle around 3:40 pm in Jeram Ghati triggering an IED blast and immediately started indiscriminate firing on a convoy of 50 cars.
Twenty-four people including eight security officers were killed in the audacious attack and 37 others were injured, a source said.
State govt’s lapse
He pointed at the thin security arrangements for such a huge convoy of political leaders. Mahendra Karma who was Z-category protectee was travelling in a non-bulletproof vehicle with just a few PSO’s (personal security officers).
The missing commandos and absence of an escort vehicle in his security clearly raises fingers at the lax attitude of the state government.
Sources said after the personal security officers ran out of ammunition, Mahendra Karma surrendered and asked the Maoists to leave the others. He was shot dead in cold blood. The personal security officers were carrying only two magazines each which had total 40 rounds.
State Congress president Nandkumar Patel and his son Dinesh Patel were kidnapped. Some local people at the spot confirmed they heard four gunshots after half an hour.
The two bodies were recovered by security forces deployed to sanitize the area. They were shot in the head, an official said.
Long tale of blood
* July 2010: A group of Maoists stormed into the house of Congress leader Avdesh Gautam in Dantewada district and brutally killed his 15-year-old brother-in-law and an associate.
* April 6, 2010: In a major and most brutal Maoist attack, about 75 Central Reserve Police Force and a state police personnel were killed in Mukrana forests of Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district.
* April 13, 2009: Ten paramilitary troopers were killed in eastern Odisha when Maoists attacked a bauxite mine in Koraput district.
* September 26, 2009: Rebels killed sons of BJP MP Baliram Kashyap at Pairaguda village in Jagdalpur, Chhattisgarh.
* October 8, 2009: Seventeen policemen were killed in an ambush by Maoists in Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra.
* July 1, 2008: Maoists attacked a police station, kill nine people, including policemen, at an outpost in Sasaram in Bihar’s Rohtas district and fled with arms and ammunition.
* March 5, 2007: Jharkhand Mukti Morcha’s Lok Sabha member Sunil Kumar Mahato was shot dead by Maoists. Two of his bodyguards and a party worker also killed in the attack while watching a football match at a village in Jamshedpur in Jharkhand.
* September 7, 2007: Former Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Janardhan Reddy and his wife N. Rajyalakshmi escaped unhurt while three Congress workers were killed in a Maoist attack in the state’s Nellore district.
* February 9, 2006: Eight Central Industrial Security Force personnel were killed when rebels raided a warehouse of the National Mineral Development Corporation.
* November 13, 2005: Hundreds of activists of the banned CPI (Maoist) attacked the police line in south Bihar’s Jehanabad district.