Maoists could have got information about the movement of the seven CRPF jawans, who were killed in an explosion in Dantewada on Wednesday, CRPF Director-General K. Durga Prasad said. He also said Maoists could have dug a secret tunnel to plant over 50 kg of explosives under the concrete road. “A surprise movement was under way and it was being done in a secret way. I don't know how the news got leaked [to Maoists]. The way the incident happened, it is clear that someone gave specific inputs [to Maoists]. We will investigate to find out what went wrong," he told reporters after paying homage to the deceased.
He told the Media on the phone: “The blast took place on a well-connected road, a school is barely 100 metres away. It is unlikely that the explosives were put together in a hurry. It was a well-planned and deliberate explosion. We suspect that a tunnel could have been dug to plant the explosives as it is a populated area and the road is a concrete one." Mr. Prasad said that a few months ago, his troops had discovered a nine-foot-long tunnel in Bijapur .
If the tunnel theory is correct, it will be a new Maoist modus operandi to plant explosives on busy roads. Mr. Prasad, who rushed to Chhattisgarh after the incident, said the wire that was presumably connected the trigger to the explosive was 120 metres long.
Dinesh Pratap Upadhyay, Deputy Inspector-General of the CRPF, Dantewada Range, said that in addition to the surprise movement, all the CRPF men had been in plainclothes. “A civil vehicle was being used, not a CRPF vehicle. It was not a routine movement. Maybe, the Maoists were waiting for some other party, and this particular CRPF party came early and got hit because of some confusion," Mr. Upadhyay said.
Refuting reports of “hacking or mutilation" of the bodies by Maoists, Mr. Upadhyay said: “I have been to the spot and saw the bodies. There was no hacking or mutilation. The Maoists probably wanted to make sure that none of our men was alive so they could snatch their weapons. But there were no weapons with our men." Mr. Durga Prasad said one of the men “was carrying an air-cooler for a CRPF dog which had fallen ill. It was the first posting for at least two of them."
Another senior officer who has participated in anti-Maoist operations in Bastar said the mistake the jawans could have made was to have stopped at a marketplace on their way to the Bhusaras camp. He thought the attack to be the handiwork of the Katekalyan area committee of the Maoists. “It was either Maoist commander Deva or Jagdish. It's their area. Two Maoists were in uniform and the others were in plainclothes. Around 15-20 Maoists were present on the spot. The driver of the CRPF vehicle was alive even after the explosion and was shot dead by the Maoists. We found AK-47 bullets at the spot. The CRPF men had no weapons, so the Maoists sprayed bullets," he added.
“The IED was meant either for an anti-landmine vehicle or a big truck, not for the vehicle which was targeted on Wednesday. The CRPF men were not specific targets. But Maoists' tactical counter-offensive campaign is now going on, and they are desperate to reach their targets. Whether the security men were armed or not does not matter to the ultras. The TCOC targets are treated as an inspiration for the lower Maoist cadre," the officer said.