Following an Intelligence report of a possible presence of Maoist leader Hidma, security forces had launched an anti-insurgency operation which is now being considered a trap as a large force of Maoist insurgents ambushed the security forces and opened fire, the 4-hour long faceoff claimed the lives of 22 jawans while 32 were injured and 1 is reported missing.
In an operation launched by the Security forces along the Sukma-Bijapur border, where an intense face-off resulted in the death of as many as 22 jawans and whereas 32 sustained injuries and 1 is reportedly missing.
The encounter with Naxals in Chhattisgarh took place near Jonaguda village, following input that Maoist leader Madvi Hidma was hiding around in the area, the police decided to enter the forest to capture Hidma.
On Friday, separate joint teams of 2000 security personnel’s began a combing operation, the personnel’s consisted of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), its elite unit CoBRA (Commando Battalion for Resolute Action), the District Reserve Guard (DRG) and the Special Task Force (STF) launched the operation from five places, namely, Tarrem, Usoor, Pamed (in Bijapur), Minpa and Narsapuram (in Sukma).
The joint team dispatched from Tarrem was ambushed by the cadres of the PLGA (People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army) in a forest near Jonaguda which is located around 500 km from the state capital Raipur.
Once the team had reached the spot where the Maoist’s commanders were to be found according to the Intel, some 400 rebels encircled the forces and opened fire, and even though the forces fought with all their might, the tactical position of the rebel terrorists gave them an advantage.
The Maoists proceeded to loot the corpses taking assault weapons. The forces took refuge behind the large trees and continued to open fire until they ran out of ammunition, officials reported.
The Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh and CRPF Director-General has however denied any intelligence failure “There is no point in saying there was some kind of intelligence or operational failure. Had it been some intelligence failure, forces would have not gone for the operation. And if there was some operational failure, so many Maoists would have not been killed,” Mr Kuldeep Singh, Director General of CRPF told ANI
Mr. Kuldeep Singh had however previously admitted that his personnel were “surprised and ambushed”.
Speaking about Maoist casualties, Mr Kuldeep Singh estimated it to be not less than 25-30. He also said that the terrorists used three tractors to carry the dead and the injured out of the site.
“We’ve got to know that the Maoists used rocket launchers, hand grenades, and other sophisticated weapons,” said Ashok Jueja, Chief of Anti-Naxal operations.
Who is Madvi Hidma?
Madvi Hidma is a 38-year old Naxal leader who belongs to the “Muriya tribal community” of the Bastar region and according to information available, he joined the Naxal movement in 1990s.
He has a bounty reward of 40 lakh rupees and is suspected to have been the mastermind of several attacks such as the 2017 Sukma attacks in which 25 CRPF personnel were killed in action and the May 2013 attacks in Jeeram Valley in which about 32 people, including top Chhattisgarh Congress leaders, were killed.
Hidma heads Battalion 1 of the People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army, which is considered the most well trained Maoist militias armed with pernicious weapons active in the Sukma-Bijapur region in south bastar.
Hidma is also said to have been involved in one of the worst attacks on security personnel in 2010 when 76 CRPF jawans were killed at Tadmetla in Dantewada district, The Hindu reported.
Reaction to the attacks
Union Home Minister Amit Shah vowed a “befitting reply” to the Maoists. He cut his Assam trip short where he was campaigning for upcoming election. Later he spoke with Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel and told the reporters that the sacrifice of the security personnel’s will not go to waste.
He later visited Jagdalpur with CM Baghel to pay his last respects to the fallen martyrs.
“Our people have laid down their lives in the fight against the Maoists. Our jawans have fought valiantly,” said CM Baghel as he promised that the fight against Maoists will continue in the state.
बीजापुर-सुकमा जिले की सीमा पर सुरक्षा बलों और नक्सली मुठभेड़ में 5 जवानों के शहीद होने का समाचार दुखद है।— Bhupesh Baghel (@bhupeshbaghel) April 3, 2021
मेरी संवेदनाएं शहीदों के परिजनों के साथ हैं।
हमारे सुरक्षा बलों की शहादत व्यर्थ नहीं जाएगी।
Former Chief Minister Raman Singh criticized the government as being insensitive pointing out that state leaders were “busy electioneering in Assam”. “There is no one here to take responsibility and handle the situation,” Former CM Singh said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, condoled the deaths of the personnel’s and said their sacrifices will never be forgotten.
My thoughts are with the families of those martyred while fighting Maoists in Chhattisgarh. The sacrifices of the brave martyrs will never be forgotten. May the injured recover at the earliest.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) April 3, 2021
Rahul Gandhi in a slew of tweets criticized the leadership and alleged that the operation was “poorly designed”
If there was no intelligence failure then a 1:1 death ratio means it was a poorly designed and incompetently executed operation.— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) April 5, 2021
Our Jawans are not cannon fodder to be martyred at will. pic.twitter.com/JDgVc03QvD
The Missing Jawan
The CRPF jawan, identified as Rakeshwar Singh Manhas from Jammu, who had been missing has been taken hostage by the Maoists who carried out the attack.
The Maoists sent a message to the forces claiming Manhas is “alive” and will not be harmed. The message further said that he will “subsequently be released”.
“One personnel who could not be traced is a hostage of the Maoists. We received the information a while ago and we have been assured that he will be kept safely. The force will ensure that he is released safely and brought back,” a source told The Print
When asked by The Print, “whether there were any demands being made by the group?” The source said, “We are in talks, cannot divulge more details on the same. We are doing our best.”