Revolution in South Asia

An Internationalist Info Project

India: 39 Elite Police killed in Maoist attack

Posted by n3wday on July 1, 2008

These articles originally appeared in The Times of India.

39 ‘elite’ Andhra-Orissa cops feared killed in Naxal attack
30 Jun 2008, 0228 hrs IST,TNN

VISAKHAPATNAM/HYDERABAD: Maoists struck a vicious blow on Sunday, launching a rocket attack on a 64-member joint Andhra Pradesh-Orissa police party — which included the elite Greyhounds — deep in the Vishakapatnam agency area close to the Orissa border.

The cops were returning on two launches on the Sileru reservoir along the Andhra-Orissa border when the Maoists fired rockets on them from a hillock in the Bodikuttu area. The incident happened between 10.30am and 11.30am. The boat capsized drowning some cops, while others swam ashore. But the Maoists weren’t done yet: they ambushed the party. Thirty-nine cops are feared killed. Sources in Orissa put the figure at 36.

The joint police force was returning after combing operations in the Sileru area near Malkangiri in south Orissa after getting information that the Maoists were holding a conclave there. A source said the cops took the water route since it would reduce their travel time but the Maoists got wind of their plans and carried out their deadly attack.

Until late in the evening, the complete details of casualties weren’t clear. The place where the operation took place is deep in the remote agency area of the tribal district of Vishakapatnam, some 200km from the port city. It’s densely forested and has sparse infrastructure. Director General of Andhra police, S S P Yadav, said rescue operations would be mounted on Monday morning with the help of cops from Orissa and Chhattisgarh.

One of the launch drivers and Manchungiputtu SI, Shankarrao, were killed when the Maoists fired on them. Twenty-five others swam ashore with some of them getting bullet injuries. While seven cops were shifted to the Seven Hills Hospital in Vizag in two naval helicopters, some others were admitted to the government hospital at Chitrakundi in the agency area.

With the boat capsizing in the reservoir waters, the cops went clueless. Sources said when the launch reached Alampeta, the Maoists fired from their automatic weapons. Two platoons of police forces were on the combing operation at the time of the attack, a source said. “With the Maoists striking when the launch was in mid-reservoir, the impact was felt more as many cops couldn’t manage to swim ashore,” said a senior Andhra cop.
Cops fell prey to Naxal trap
30 Jun 2008, 0232 hrs IST,TNN

VISAKHAPATNAM/HYDERABAD: Sunday’s assault which saw a large number of cops fall to a Maoist attack was a deadly operation planned with precision. The ultras first sent out information that a conclave was on at Malkangiri in Orissa with the purpose of enticing cops to enter into hostile territory. The cops, upbeat with the intelligence input and sensing a kill, rushed to the spot in large numbers only to find out there was no conclave.

Attributing it to leak of information to the ultras that a combing team was coming and assuming that the Maoists had quickly called off their operations, the cops were on their journey back — in a relaxed mood — when the ultras struck.

The operation also marked the beginning of mobile warfare by the Maoists who are well-known for their guerrilla tactics. Though the cops were aware the ultras have rocket launchers, they hadn’t realised it would be put to use. This is the first time that such a large number of cops have been killed in a single operation. In the past, the biggest killings were by landmine blasts in Chhattisgarh.

There have been use of rocket launchers by the Maoists in Prakasam and Guntur districts of Andhra Pradesh in the past, but without much success. “Sunday’s strike, taking advantage of the reservoir surrounded by three hills, marks a new beginning in the Maoist warfare,” an Andhra police officer said. Rocket launchers can be fired from even a distance of 1 km.

The State Intelligence Bureau had reportedly sent an alert 15 days ago about a possible Maoist strike, but the cops did not pay heed to it. After being chased away from Nallamala, Palnadu and north Telangana regions of Andhra, the Maoists have sneaked into Chhattisgarh and gathered on what they call the ‘Andhra-Orissa border zone’.

“The Maoists take advantage of the jungles, inaccessible hamlets, poor roads and the tribal population where the government is all but absent,” said an analyst. According to the analysts, Sunday’s operation was also in retaliation to the Andhra government’s recent decision, enhancing cash rewards for the capture of top Maoist leaders.

One Response to “India: 39 Elite Police killed in Maoist attack”

  1. Comments said

    First effective use of rocket launchers; beginning of mobile warfare. Significant, I’d say.

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