The brazen Maoist attack on securitymen in Chhattisgarh on Tuesday sparked outrage among political parties and leaders as President Pranab Mukherjee led a chorus of demand that such actions should be put down with a firm hand. “Such random attacks on security forces performing their duty must be put down with a firm hand,” the President said in a message to state Governor Shekhar Dutt.
As many as 16 people – 11 CRPF personnel, four state police and one civilian – were gunned down by Naxals in Jeerum Nallah area of Sukma district, 400 kilometres from state capital of Raipur.
Mukherjee said “I am deeply saddened to learn about the tragic attack by Left Wing Extremists on security personnel in Sukma district of Chhattisgarh today in which a number of persons belonging to CRPF and Chhattisgarh police as well as a civilian have lost their lives and suffered injuries.”
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The President called upon the state government to provide all possible aid to the families who have lost their near and dear ones as well as medical assistance to the injured.
Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said “we have taken it very seriously and we will fight the Naxals head on. Director General of CRPF (Dilip Trivedi) has been told to reach immediately.” He said it was too pre-mature to guess whose failure it was but said the “Naxal movement has to be dealt ruthlessly and we will do it.”
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh termed the attack as an “act of cowardice” which had been planned as security forces used to go to these areas. Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi described the attack as a “senseless act of violence” and offered his condolences to the families of the security men who lost their lives.
Ruling Congress and main opposition BJP made it a political issue with BJP terming the attack as an attempt to “influence” the Lok Sabha polls. “We condemn the unfortunate incident…Naxals carry out such strikes before elections. Before the assembly elections, they had carried out a similar attack to influence the polls but they failed. “Again they have carried out an attack when the Lok Sabha polls have been announced. But they will fail this time too,” BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad said.
Rejecting BJP’s contention that incidents like the Naxal attack on security personnel in Chhattisgarh do occur ahead of elections, Congress spokesman Abhishek Singhvi said “it is completely unacceptable to suggest that such thing can happen during elections. “Writ of the government should run strong and any failure is unacceptable.