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When Maoists struck, CISF jawans were in lungis

Posted by Indian Vanguard on April 8, 2007

BERMO: If men in the police post in Dantewada were caught totally off-guard by Naxal raiders last month, the same happened when more than 1,000 Maoists stormed CISF barracks in Bermo near Bokaro on Friday night. The jawans were lolling around in lungis and vests, getting ready for dinner when calamity struck.

When police officers, who reached the area after repairing a bridge that the Maoists had blown up to prevent reinforcements coming on on their tails, entered the devastated Khasmahal CISF camp early Saturday, that’s still how most of the men were dressed, too terrified to get into their fatigues, their weapons all gone.

The Naxals, who had come with the express intention of clearing out the armoury, left a trail of eight dead and one of India’s elite security forces, mandated to protect airports and nuclear plants against terror attacks, completely shaken.

As the story unfolds, it seems that barring a few CISF jawans, who got killed or maimed in a gunbattle in which more than 1,000 rounds were fired by both sides, the bulk of this heavily-armed and well-trained force was completely overpowered.

Cowering CISF men, eyewitnesses said, even led the Naxal raiders on a guided tour of the barracks so that every piece of ordnance and every weapon could be brought out. They also took away Rs 60,000 in cash that was kept for camp expenses.

M M Ali, assistant sub-inspector of the force, who survived the Red blitzkrieg, said the raiders were particularly interested in AK-47s and AK-56 assault rifles and less in the SLRs and pistols.

Even between the 40-odd Naxal guerrillas who entered the barracks, while their comrades guarded the periphery and the exit routes, there must have been more than enough to carry back. Because what they left behind was four self-loading rifles, a pistol, along with the incendiary stuff they had carried in: four petrol bombs, three can bombs of 15 kg each, two hand grenades, one Motorola walkie-talkie set, one cell phone and a leather bag packed with Maoist literature, Ali said.

To boot, it appears that a bulk of the final raiding party were women. When rescuers entered the area, they found several women’s shoes and sandals which were left behind by the raiders who hurriedly left and melted into the darkness.

A sub-inspector of the force from Kerala, Vay Pay and constable Hoshiyar Singh were shot dead by the group of about 40 Naxalites who had entered the barrack. The two challenged the armed Maoists — an equal number being women members — and fired on them. The two died challenging the armed guerrillas in their barracks.

Initial reports on Friday night had suggested the presence of 300 Maoists, but in the clear morning light of Saturday, officials said they suspected that more than 1,000 people had participated in the operation. These guerrillas were divided over four locations near Khashmahal project camp, Gandhinagar police station, Noorinagar and Bokaro thermal power police station to prevent movement of security forces. That’s close to professional war-room planning.

Further, groups of Maoists stationed themselves at different places where they had set up roadblocks or damaged road bridges to keep the security agencies away.

Times of India


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