A day after four civilians and one security personnel were killed in an IED attack by Maoists in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district, a probe by Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) headquarters in Delhi has found that its men had flouted specific instructions to not venture out of their camps to buy supplies in the run-up to the elections.
The bus they had taken along with four civilians was blown up by Maoists in Bacheli while they were returning from a nearby market where CISF men had gone to buy supplies for their camp. This was the third attack by Maoists in less than two weeks in the run-up to the first phase of Assembly elections scheduled to be held on November 12.
“There are laid down SOPs (standard operating procedure) for hauling supplies to camps. These were flouted. Apart from this, in the run-up to Chhattisgarh polls, specific instructions had been given to the men to not venture out of camps for buying supplies. They had been instructed to either get the supplies through local contractors or the station house officer of the local police station,” a senior CISF officer said.
He added that preliminary probe had revealed that all these directions were flouted. “It appears the men had perhaps become complacent. It is at times difficult to maintain the same level of attention to personal security throughout the year. Perhaps, they had been doing this regularly and did not think they would come under attack, particularly when they were travelling in a civil vehicle with other civilians wearing civil dress,” the officer said.
As reported by The Indian Express on Friday, senior Chhattisgarh police officers repeatedly said after the attack that the casualties were a result of “predictability” on part of the security personnel. This was also true of the October 30 attack at Neelavaya in Dantewada where a Doordarshan journalist was killed along with Chhattisgarh policemen while on an assignment. The police had been regularly taking journalists to these areas.
The CISF, which provides protection to several industrial units and public sector undertakings in Chhattisgarh’s Maoist-hit zones, is now revisiting its SOPs and putting more emphasis on coordination with local police.
“We have to ensure that our preventive steps are proactive and not reactive. We have to reinforce the existing SOPs and see what needs revision. We have to also make sure that central forces and local police work together,” a Home Ministry official said.
According to police, around Thursday noon, eight persons, including four CISF personnel, took the bus from the Bacheli hills, where the NMDC mines and the CISF camps are located, to go to town to buy supplies.
While one CISF sub-inspector stayed back in Bacheli town, the bus returned with seven occupants. Near turn number 6, about an 8-km ascent from Bacheli, an IED exploded under the bus. While five persons were killed, two CISF men were injured. Sources said the injured are out of danger, with one man having lost two of his fingers.