Evidence has been found indicating Maoists have started using Radio Controlled IEDs (RCIEDs), detonated via remote devices. While the first proof that Maoists were attempting to improvise this technology came in 2010, after seizures made in Jharkhand, for the first time there have been three separate cases where RCIEDs are believed to have been used against security forces, killing two personnel and injuring two others, police said.
A note prepared by the CRPF Institute of IED Management Pune details that the first documented use of RCIEDs against security forces was in Orissa on January 8 this year, when Maoists targeted a motorcycle patrol of BSF personnel in Koraput’s Ramagiri area, in which two personnel were killed.
On March 22, two suspected RCIED blasts were carried out in Timapur in Chhattisgarh’s Bijapur district, which did not cause any fatalities or injuries. A week after that, on March 30, two more blasts in the Basaguda area of Bijapur caused injuries to two CRPF personnel.
Admitting the new challenge posed by RCIEDs, D M Awasthi, Special DG, Anti Naxal Operations, Chhattisgarh, told The Indian Express, “This is an important phenomenon. We have told all SPs and operation units that they must be aware of this.”
Sharad Singh, who was the thana in-charge of the Basaguda police station when the two suspected RCIED explosions happened in March, said the forces have been unnerved by the discovery. “Till now, either it was a pressure IED, which exploded if a jawan or a vehicle pressed on it from above, or a trigger IED, when normally a thin wire was connected to the explosive, and taken to the fields or jungles and triggered. We have discovered many IEDs because of the discovery of this wire, or have been able to trace where the bomber was hiding. But with RCIEDs, our chances of discovery of the IED are reduced. There are also very few ways of identifying who the bomber is. He can easily pass the spot on a motorcycle, and trigger it as he goes past,” Singh said.
Another police officer said that while an RCIED requires more expertise to put together, once made, it is “dangerous in its simplicity”. “Anybody with a clear line of sight between the receiver and the transmitter on the device can use it. Earlier some expertise was needed in knowing how to pull the trigger. Now, all it needs is the push of a button,” he said.
The analysis report from the Pune institute says that the success of the three recent RCIED blasts would have “bolstered Maoist confidence”. “The transformation from basic IEDs to sophisticated IEDs is going to pose a grave challenge. Though they will still show reliance on VOIEDs (Victim Operated IEDs) and CWIED (command wire)… above examples clearly indicate that RCIEDs may be their favourite mechanism in times to come,” the report said.
The CRPF analysis also documents that “Naxals are planning to train their cadres in fabricating and using RCIEDs”.