At least 15 security personnel and a civilian were killed in an IED explosion triggered by Naxals in Gadchiroli, Maharashtra Wednesday afternoon. The incident took place in the afternoon when a quick response team (QRT) of the state police was going towards a spot where Maoists had set on fire around 30 vehicles. Gadchiroli Naxal attack LIVE Updates
The police personnel belonged to the C60 commando squad and were travelling in a private vehicle, Maharashtra DGP Subodh Jaiswal said at a press conference, hours after the attack. He also said that the incident cannot be attributed to intelligence failure as the state police was already on high alert in the wake of Lok Sabha elections.
Explained: Why the attack in Gadchiroli is significant
Earlier, DIG (Gadchiroli range) Ankush Shinde told The Indian Express, “The Quick Response Team (QRT) was from Kurkheda police station. They were going to Purada village in a private vehicle. The blast occurred at around 12.30 pm near a nullah called Lendari in which 15 of our jawans have become martyrs.”
Asked if the QRT was rushing to the arson spot, Shinde said, “We don’t rush to such spots since it is always fraught with the danger of ambush. I will have to get the ground report about where the QRT was headed.” Initial photographs from the site showed remains of a vehicle after the explosion.
Incidentally, the Kurkheda area had long been free from Maoist violence for a long time.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi condemned the attack and said that the perpetrators will not be spared. “Strongly condemn the despicable attack on our security personnel in Gadchiroli, Maharashtra. I salute all the brave personnel. Their sacrifices will never be forgotten. My thoughts and solidarity are with the bereaved families. The perpetrators of such violence will not be spared,” he tweeted.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis also expressed grief over the loss of lives. “Anguished to know that our 16 police personnel from Gadchiroli C-60 force got martyred in a cowardly attack by Naxals today. My thoughts and prayers are with the martyrs’ families. I’m in touch with DGP and Gadchiroli SP. I strongly condemn this attack and we will fight this menace with even more and stronger efforts. I also spoke to Hon Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh ji and briefed him about the situation in Maharashtra,” he wrote on Twitter.
Late last night, in an act of arson, Maoists set fire to the vehicles deployed for road work in Kurkheda tahsil of Gadchiroli district. Additional Superintendent of Police Hari Balaji told The Indian Express, “there are varying reports about the number of Naxals involved in the act. But information is that a group comprising anything between 40 to 100 Naxals had come to the Dadapur village and set fire to 29 vehicles that included a tar plant, trailer, and tippers.” Read more about it here.
The Congress, however, attacked the BJP-led government over the Naxal attack, saying that despite its “tall talk” no lessons from Pulwama have been learnt, PTI reported. Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel said the country needs preventive action, accountability for this failure and not ‘jumlas’ (rhetoric) and lectures.
-With ENS and PTI inputs