Maoists fired on a police party in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district on Friday morning, killing five police personnel including the station house officer (SHO) of Kuwakonda, and fled with six weapons including two AK-47 rifles, and a walkie-talkie set. The policemen, led by SHO Vivek Shukla, were riding to a road construction site between Kuwakonda and Bacheli on motorcycles. Over 100 Maoists fired at the policemen after forcing them to stop by blocking the road with logs, a senior officer said.
“Two teams of policemen were travelling on six motorcycles. All the five dead were in the first team. The second team reached the spot half an hour after the ambush. The Maoists were still camping there, and an exchange of fire took place that lasted for an hour,” R K Vij, additional DG (Naxal) of the Chattisgarh Police, said.
Three policemen were injured. The Maoists set fire to the motorcycles, an officer said. The dead policemen were identified as constables Chhavilal Kashi, Sandeep Sahu, Dhaneshwar Mandavi and Navalkishore Shandilya, besides SHO Shukla. There were indications on Friday that the police party had walked into a trap by travelling by the same route and at the same time for the past two days, and by disregarding intelligence inputs about the movement of Maoists in that area. The attack, coming days before the Election Commission announces general elections, has set off alarm bells in the security establishment. “We are reviewing the incident for any kind of lapses. The rescue team, which rushed to the scene after the attack, however, did well,” Vij said.
A senior police officer said, “There are basic, standing rules on not moving in groups in these areas, which the police team seems to have flouted. The Maoists are likely to have noticed that they were using the same route, at the same time, for the past two days. They were sitting ducks.”