NAGPUR: The C-60 commandos from Gondia were kept on their toes on Monday as they ran into Naxals in two incidents. Though no casualties were reported from both camps, there was daylong drama at both places in the district.
The commandos recovered, defused and seized an Improvised Explosive Devise (IED) planted on Istari-Dhamditola Road near a bridge. In another incident, three Naxals managed to sneak away into the forest after narrowly escaping an ambush laid by commandos on the road between Daldal Kuhi and Wanjari.
The IED weighing 20kg with four detonators was retrieved by the Gondia commandos following specific information. The IED was buried around a couple of feet below the tarred road surface.
Sources said that the IED, which had sulphur and nitrate based yellow mixture, was planted the day Istari village sarpanch Ghanshyam Koretti was shot dead by Naxals. Koretti’s body was found a short distance away from where the IED was found.
The area is in the jurisdiction of armed out post (AOP) at Ganutola under the Chichgarh police station. It is learnt that the security forces had lost one man last year in an encounter with the Naxals close to the place where the IED was found.
It is surmised that the Naxals had placed the IED on the Istari-Dhamditola Road after killing Koretti with the intention of blowing up the convoy of security forces that would arrive to retrieve the body. The Naxal ploy failed as the cops took a detour to recover the body.
However, information of the IED reached the police, who immediately started an operation in the area. A police officer said that the IED was powerful enough to blow up a van.
Deputy inspector general of police Ravindra Kadam, in-charge of Gadchiroli-Gondia Naxal range, said that the security forces had pressed into action a combined force of Gadchiroli and Gondia commandos in the border zone after the killing of the sarpanch. “We had started increasing pressure on them,” he said.
While the Gondia police tasted success in recovering the powerful IED, success eluded them in Darekasa, where they had laid a trap for Naxals after getting specific information. Superintendent of police, Gondia, Chandra Kishor Mina said that three civilians had come in between the commandos and Naxals, which compelled the security forces to exercise restraint.
“We had information that three Naxal cadres on a bike and another on a separate two-wheeler were coming from Daldal Kuhi village and heading to Wanjari. Our commandos had reached a tri-junction and laid a trap, but three civilians happened to enter the zone from another direction, forcing our personnel to hold fire,” said Mina. The skirmish took place in the area under the Darekasa AOP, which is considered a Naxal hotbed.
It is learnt that the three Naxal cadres spotted the movement of the commandos, immediately turned around their bikes and slipped into deep jungle after leaving the roads with the commandos giving chase. Another biker, also suspected to be a Naxal cadre, was 100 meters away when he took a U-turn and fled.
The Naxals fired at the commandos from their crude firearms. The exchange of fire continued for a brief moment but no one could be apprehended. “The place had thick forest, which helped the Naxals to flee. We feel that a section of the civilians were helping the Naxals,” said Mina.