Bhubaneshwar: On a day home minister P Chidambaram made his first visit to Maoist bastion Lalgarh in West Bengal and called the Left rebels “cowards hiding in forests’’, the later struck in neighbouring Orissa, killing nine jawans and injuring several others by triggering a landmine blast in the Koraput district.
The incident comes four days after the Border Security Force (BSF) and the Orissa police launched Operation Green Hunt to flush out Maoists from the district.
Twenty-two jawans of the state’s elite special operations group (SOG) were on their way to clear a roadblock caused by trees felled by the Maoists when the claymore landmines laid by the insurgents blew up at Tanginiguda in Baipariguda. The vehicle turned turtle on the impact.
Senior officials, including Prakash Mishra, director (intelligence), rushed to the spot and a massive combing operation is on.
Meanwhile, the Orissa government has decided to ask for three more battalions of the central paramilitary forces to intensify its war against the Maoists. Nine battalions of central paramilitary forces are operating in the state at present. Five of them are from the BSF and four from the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).
They are supported by the state’s Special Operation Group (SOG). Eighteen of the 30 districts in Orissa are affected by Maoists.
Police sources said the rebels are relying on landmines more extensively than guns to counter the forces. “Maoists are using landmines increasingly to target the police,’’ said IG-operations Sanjeeb Marik. Officials engaged in the anti-Maoist operation believe the rebels have become smarter in the way they acquire mines. They said the Maoists collect gelatin sticks and dynamites used in the mining areas to blast rocks. “They don’t have to run to the market to purchase gelatin. They collect it either from the contractor or factory owners. They also attack vehicles carrying the explosives,” said a senior cop.