In a deadly attack, Naxals ambushed a team of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel in Chhattisgarh’s Sukma district on Tuesday, killing three and injuring 14 others. The incident took place near Tekalgudem village, where the security forces were setting up a new camp to provide basic facilities to the locals.
According to officials, the CRPF team, comprising of personnel from the 201st battalion of the Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA) and the 150th battalion of the CRPF, was engaged in a search operation in the Jonaguda-Aliguda area, when they came under heavy fire from the Naxals. The exchange of fire lasted for about an hour, during which the Naxals also used improvised explosive devices (IEDs) to target the security forces.
Three CRPF personnel, including two CoBRA commandos, were killed in the encounter, while 14 others sustained injuries. The injured personnel were airlifted to Raipur for advanced treatment. Two of them were reported to be in critical condition.
The security forces recovered some arms and ammunition from the encounter site, along with some documents and materials belonging to the Naxals. The area was cordoned off and a combing operation was launched to nab the fleeing Naxals.
The CRPF team was part of a joint operation by the state police and the paramilitary forces to establish a Forward Operating Base (FOB) in Tekalgudem village, which is located on the border of Bijapur and Sukma districts. The FOB is a remote camp designed to support security forces operating in high-risk Naxal-dominated areas. The FOB was inaugurated on Tuesday morning, and was aimed to benefit the people of the area with basic amenities and development works.
The attack was condemned by the state government and the central government, who expressed their condolences to the families of the martyred personnel and assured all possible assistance to the injured. Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel said that the sacrifice of the security personnel will not go in vain, and that the state government is committed to eradicate the Naxal menace from the state. He also announced an ex-gratia of Rs 50 lakh each to the kin of the deceased and Rs 15 lakh each to the injured.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah also expressed his grief over the incident and said that he has spoken to the CRPF Director General and the Chhattisgarh Chief Minister to take stock of the situation. He said that the government will continue its fight against the Naxals with full force and determination. He also saluted the courage and valour of the CRPF personnel and prayed for the speedy recovery of the injured.
The attack came just a few days after the Union Home Minister chaired a high-level review meeting on the Left Wing Extremism (LWE) situation in Chhattisgarh, where he said that the Naxal menace should end in the next three years. He also praised the security forces for their achievements in the anti-Naxal operations and urged them to intensify their efforts to bring peace and development in the affected areas.
Chhattisgarh is one of the worst-affected states by the Naxal violence, which has claimed the lives of thousands of security personnel and civilians over the years. The Bastar region, comprising of seven districts, including Bijapur and Sukma, is considered as the core area of the Naxals, where they have a strong presence and influence. The security forces have been conducting regular operations to flush out the Naxals from their hideouts and to establish the writ of the state in the remote and inaccessible areas.
In April 2021, as many as 22 security personnel were killed and 31 injured in one of the deadliest Naxal attacks in the state, which took place along the Sukma-Bijapur border. The security personnel were part of a joint operation to eliminate a senior Naxal leader, when they were ambushed by a large number of Naxals.