CRPF jawans were having lunch when Maoists ambushed them
The 25 CRPF jawans who were killed in a deadly Naxal ambush in Chhattisgarh's Sukma district, were having lunch when a hail of bullets and grenades hit them fatally.
A party of about 36 troops, out of the total 99, came under the first assault after they had ventured out from Burkapal on Monday to sanitise and provide protection to a 5.5-km long road construction work connecting Chitagufa in the Sukma district, officials said.
The Maoists squad "very discreetly with the aid of locals" kept tracking the movement of the troops when one party of 36, out of the total three, sat down for launch, the strong squad of Naxals, possessing sophisticated weapons, took them by surprise and rained heavy gun fire, they said. The ultras also used some improvised 'explosive-tipped' arrows to take aim on the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) men that has reportedly resulted in injuries to them.
A huge assortment of 22 smart arms, including 13 AK series assault rifles and 5 INSAS rifles, 3,420 live rounds of various calibre, 75 magazines of AK rifles, 31 of INSAS, 67 live UBGL rounds, 22 bullet proof jackets, two binoculars, five wireless sets and a deep search metal detector were also looted by Naxals, they said.
A top CRPF officer said the slain troops had just "finished their lunch" and were possibly not fully alert, while other officials said "some of them were having their lunch" when the attack was launched around 12:30 PM.
While the slain 25 men and about six others who were injured, tried to gather their weapons or take aim at the marauding Naxals, the others on the guard duty mounted an effective retaliation and saved about 40 civilians and construction workers who were present in the vicinity of the area during the deadly assault that lasted over an hour.
What has surprised multiple security officials is the fact that the Maoists are understood to have used few under-barrel grenade launchers (UBGL), a smart and sophisticated weapon used by security forces, to inflict fatal casualties on the troops by lobbing grenades in quick succession.
Anguish and gloom engulf families of slain CRPF men
It was only nine days back when Surender Kumar was home on leave and had taken his wife and four-year-old daughter on a trip to the Golden Temple in Amritsar and Wagah border.
On Tuesday, his distraught family is struggling to come to terms with the news of his demise in the Sukma naxal attack yesterday, clueless as they are about their lives without him. Surender was among the 25 CRPF personnel who were in the Maoist ambush in Chhattisgarh's Sukma, one of the deadliest in years.
Pushpraag Thakur, who learnt of his brother-in-law's death at 5:45 am today, said he was proud of Surender's martyrdom, but had no expectations from the government.
"We have no expectations from the government because we know that they will do nothing. They will bring in no new initiatives for the CRPF personnel or those in the army. I would like to question our defence minister and our prime minister that for how long this will continue.
"My brother-in-law and 24 other men died, but nobody is affected. All they do is put a garland on the martyrs' photos to be in the news. My brother-in-law has given his life for the country and I am proud of him, but why do we never see a minister's son becoming a martyr on the border?" Pushpraag said.
Surender was the sole earning member in the family that lives in a three-room house in Mandi district of Himachal Pradesh (HP). A phone call to Sanjay Kumar's home in Palampur, also in Himachal Pradesh, elicited wails of his inconsolable elder daughter who demanded nothing but justice for her father.
"Papa ko justice dilao.. papa ki kya galti thi (Do justice to my father, what was his fault)?" was all that was to be heard from the distressed daughter.
Sanjay's elder brother, Vijay Sharma said he was proud of his sacrifice but his voice mirrorred Pushpraag's hopelessness and lack of trust in the government.