The operation in Gumla district on Sunday, in which top Maoist Ashish Yadav alias Ashish Da was killed, was also an example of security forces increasingly using choppers for bolstering operations against the Maoists. Earlier, choppers were used mostly to evacuate injured personnel to safety.
Even as the operations were going on, the forces realised that the number of Maoists holed up deep in the jungles could be higher, requiring more CRPF personnel. Around 100 personnel in two choppers were flown in from Ranchi and the combing operations were intensified. They continued throughout Monday.
“This was not the first instance of choppers being used for movement of forces. But intensive use of choppers is increasing gradually in our operations. Earlier, the basic purpose of choppers used to evacuate the injured from an area of operation to best possible medical facility. Now, we are also using it for moving forces, as and when required,” said IG (Operations) M S Bhatia.
In all, the Jharkhand police have identified nearly 100 points where helipads are to be developed. These places, said officials, are deep into the jungles and close to the forward camps of the forces.
Out of these 100-odd points, concrete helipads have been readied at around 25 points. The task of making all these points concretised is gradually being taken up, they added. These points are spread across the core affected areas like Latehar, Chatra, Gumla, Simdega, Palamu etc.
In Gumla, however, the choppers did not use any such landing facility near the point of operation — Boradih forests in Palkot area. “Our forces landed at the district headquarter in Gumla. From there, they were moved to the operation site by road, which is another 20 km from Palkot (about 30 km from the district headquarters). But, the terrain was so difficult that, beyond a point, they had to use motorcycles and then were all on foot,” said Bhatia.
Officials added that senior officials including DGP D K Pandey too had to follow the same procedure when he went to congratulate the CRPF jawans on the spot. He had reached Gumla on Sunday evening. He gave a cash reward of Rs 4 lakh to the CRPF jawans and congratulated them on their success.
Bhatia added that using choppers gave the forces the best advantage in terms of time. “If these forces had to be moved from Ranchi by road, they would not have been able to join the forces on ground within a few hours. Yet, we have to ensure that safety measures are not ignored. There are certain Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) regarding use of choppers from which we can’t deviate,” he said. Officials said that helicopters are never used in actual combat.
Meanwhile, the combing operations in Boradih area under Palkot police station area of Gumla district continued throughout Monday, both from Gumla and Simdega side. With nightfall the operations were halted, but the forces continued to remain inside the jungle, said officials. Ashish Da was a wanted Maoist, a member of Bihar-Jharkhand Special Area Committee. He was carrying Rs 25 lakh reward.