According to the sources, a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) officer who has been missing since Saturday’s ambush in Chhattisgarh’s Bijapur has been kidnapped by the Maoists who carried out the attack.
The constable, known as Rakeshwar Singh Manhas from Jammu, is still alive, but with Maoist cadres, according to security sources.
When asked whether the Maoists had made any demands for Manhas’ release, the source said, “We are in talks.” I am unable to provide any additional information on the topic. We are giving it our all.”
After obtaining information about Maoists in Silger and Bodaguda, close to 2,000 personnel from the Special Task Force (STF), District Reserve Guard (DRG), District Force of the Chhattisgarh Police, the CRPF, and its elite CoBRA unit launched a joint operation on 2 April. The presence of Hidma, the leader of the Maoists’ lethal Battalion 1, in the region was clearly stated in the inputs.
The altercation started at noon on Saturday. According to reports, the troops were carrying out the final leg of area dominance at the Tekulagudem hillock when they were “caught off-balance” and hit by over 300 missiles.
According to one source, the attack may have been revenge for the CRPF’s attempts to establish a camp in Silger, a Maoist stronghold.
According to another CRPF source, the Maoists first attacked the security team with “indigenous rocket launchers.” The Maoists attacked again, this time with an LMG (Light Machine Gun), as troops raced down the hill to construct a helipad for a swift evacuation, according to reports. Residents from the villages are also said to have joined the attack, encircling the troops.
A joint team from various police and CRPF units had apparently walked into a trap during an anti-Maoist combing operation on the Sukma-Bijapur border. The four-hour gun battle that followed killed 22 personnel and injured 31 while one jawan was declared missing.
Security officials have alleged an intelligence failure and poor leadership by the CRPF commanders but CRPF director-general Kuldeep Singh has denied any lapses.