Reports claim that the Gadchiroli Maoist attack in Maharashtra, which killed 16 C-60 commandos of the Quick Response Team (QRT), could have been avoided if authorities had paid heed to a series of tip-offs they got over the past few months.
The tip-offs were given on March 21, April 3, April 9, April 11 and April 23. Two warnings were given on April 23. The tip-offs mentioned that there was a Naxal plan targeting security personnel of the Kukheda and Purada police stations in the Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra, reports DNA.
On May 1, a vehicle carrying 15 C-60 commandos was the target of the Maoists who organised an IED to go off near the vehicle, killing all the 15 commandos in the vehicle as well as the driver.
Calling the incident a "major security lapse", a senior IPS officer in the area said that the deaths could have been avoided.
Hours before the attack, Maoists in the area had set 27 vehicles on fire in Dadapur in Purada village. The police had sent QRTs to control the situation. The vehicles torched were cement mixers, trucks, dumpers part of some construction work of the Purada-Yerkad sector of National Highway-136. The vehicles belonged to Amar Infrastructures Ltd.
"This was a case of a classic trap deployed by Maoists. First, use arson to force the police to send reinforcement and then attack the reinforcement party by placing landmine blasts. Ideally, in such cases, a ROP (road opening party) is a must. It is a golden rule. However, in this case, it wasn't pressed. This shows that it was a case of poor planning," said a former senior IPS officer was quoted as saying by Economic Times.
In addition to this, the vehicle had also ignored several protocols required before embarking on the journey. The team, which was travelling in a Mahindra mini-truck, failed to send a patrol team ahead to conduct a recce and make sure that the route was safe. The Gadchiroli police also did not send the team in an anti-landmine vehicle instead of the private one the victims were travelling in.
"This was nothing but hubris and a complete failure of intelligence since the men did not follow the basic protocol. I have seen so many ambushes but fail to understand what was the hurry for them to reach the spot (Dadpur) when such an incident had taken place on Tuesday night," Dr Charanjeet Singh Saluja, known for helping injured soldiers serving in the area, told The Hindu.