Tribune News Service
Mumbai, May 2
With Maoists blowing up armoured personnel carriers or mine-protected vehicles (MPVs) used to transport security forces, police personnel in Maharashtra are reluctant to travel in them while carrying out operations.
“Incidents of Maoists blowing up MPVs in Chhattisgarh and other affected areas have demoralised police personnel, who are afraid of travelling in them,” a government official admitted.
Last October, the Maoists blew up an MPV in Chhattisgarh with more than 50 kgs of explosives, killing at least five CRPF personnel travelling within. During these explosions, the vehicles were thrown several feet in the air.
Should the outer hull of the MPV suffer damage, there is risk of being bombed or shot by the Maoists, who typically wait to ambush the security personnel after an IED attack.
Security officials, however, said the MPVs are effective in shielding the personnel within from bullets and low-intensity explosives.
On Wednesday, 15 members of the State Reserve Police Force and the driver of the private bus they were travelling in were killed after the vehicle was blown up by Naxalites using IEDs. It is still not clear whether the security personnel refused to travel in MPVs or they were ordered to move into the affected areas in a private bus requisitioned for the purpose.
The Maharashtra government has ordered an inquiry into the incident.
Police officials in Maharashtra feel that the Naxalites are increasingly relying on IED attacks after Nambala Keshava Rao alias Basavaraju (61) took over as general secretary of Communist Party of India (Maoist) last year. His predecessor Muppala Lakshmana Rao alias Ganpati is said to have retired due to ill-health.
Sources say Keshava Rao was in charge of field operations of the Maoist groups as the head of the organisation’s Central Military Commission (CMC) for around 30 years. An engineer from Warangal, he is an expert in explosives and is a skilled bomb-maker, according to officials here.
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