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Day after attack, NIA takes over probe

Maoists involved in last year’s Darbha attack may be behind Tuesday’s ambush on CRPF men.

New Delhi |
March 13, 2014 2:16:01 am
People pay tribute to the CRPF personnel killed in the Naxal attack, in Jagdalpur on Wednesday. PTI People pay tribute to the CRPF personnel killed in the Naxal attack, in Jagdalpur on Wednesday. PTI

National Investigation Agency (NIA) suspects the involvement of 28 CPI(Maoist) cadres — who formed the inner cordon during an attack on a Congress convoy in May last year — in Tuesday’s attack in which 15 security men were killed. 

Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde has ordered transfer of the probe into Tuesday’s attack to NIA, which has sent a team to Chhattisgarh. A Home Ministry team that visited the state along with Shinde on Wednesday said there were lapses on part of security forces in following standard operating procedure (SoP). A senior Home Ministry official said there were specific inputs about movement of Naxals from state and central intelligence agencies.

“After intelligence reports, security forces conducted more than half a dozen operations but could not lay their hands on any of the cadres. These operations not yielding results made the security forces think that it was either false alarm or Naxals have retreated,” said a Home Ministry official, adding that the state police and directors general of central forces have been asked to draw a fresh strategy to counter the insurgency ahead of Lok Sabha elections.

Home Ministry officials suspect that Maoists have started Tactical Counter Offensive Campaign (TCOC) ahead of elections to garner support, mobilise forces, kill policemen, harvest weapons and attack government installations. A senior official said, “Naxals recently killed three civilians in Khammam, Gadchiroli and Bijapur and left their bodies to trap policemen. We asked the state police to be extra vigilant.”

The NIA team is getting intelligence alerts from the state intelligence team on movement of Maoists. A senior NIA official said they suspect the role of Maoists who participated in the 2013 attack, who have since been promoted, in the latest attack. Out of the 28 Maoists named by NIA, one was Surender, head of Darbha divisional committee, and another was Jailal, who is in charge of second regional command company of CPI(Maoist), officials said.

No suspect has been arrested. The agency zeroed in on names based on interrogation reports of surrendered Maoists, and statements of witnesses. The Naxal team that formed the inner cordon in the May 2013 attack is from Chhattisgarh. Their role has been established from documents seized during raids, according to investigators.

The attack on the Congress convoy on May 25, 2013 killed 27 people, including former minister Mahendra Karma, Chhattisgarh Congress chief Nand Kumar Patel, and senior Congress leader Vidya Charan Shukla. NIA said nearly 250 cadres were trained for three days ahead of the 2013 attack.

The ministry has demanded two Indian Air Force helicopters from MoD to scour Naxal-affected areas during polls and has sanctioned deployment of additional security forces.

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