Three years after the Dantewada massacre, in which 76 security personnel were ambushed and killed by Maoists in the Tadmetla forest, the horror of the attack remains largely buried in the classified files with the authorities. Mail Today accessed the inquiry report prepared by retired director general of the Border Security Force (BSF) E.N. Rammohan on the instruction of the ministry of home affairs.
The report highlights the lapses on part of the Central Reserve Paramilitary Force (CRPF) in gauging the Naxalite threat and of the government in reacting to the gravity of the situation. Even before the incident on April 6, 2010, there were signs of trouble for the security forces.
On March 10, the rebels had shot at the personnel of 62 Battalion barely 300m from the site of the ambush, injuring one CRPF jawan. On April 1, Nalin Prabhat, deputy inspector general, operations, CRPF, suggested launching an ‘area domination’ exercise where the troops were to remain out for 72 hours to sanitise the area near the camps.
CRPF’s leadership made a deputy commandant (DC), totally unfamiliar with the area, lead the operation. The report notes that the DC had been sent to the area for supervising a change of companies. “Sending an officer without knowledge of the terrain was the initial mistake. Any patrol of the coy should have been led by the officer in charge of the coy (company) located there,” the report states. As per the plan, the operation had to cover an area of 5-7 km around the camp. It was to be launched from the Chintalnar camp of the CRPF at 1900 hours on April 4 and the personnel were to return to the base on the morning of April 7. However, the troops did not follow the plan. They not only started late, but also moved in a single file and did not stick to the destinations that they were to cover.
The entire party camped at 12.30 am at Mukhram village where they cooked khichdi with the help of locals who provided them firewood, utensils and water. Rammohan’s report says: “It is possible that their (troops) plan to go to Tadmetla could have been described by someone (from the force) in front of the villagers.”
On April 6 morning, the CRPF men moved towards Tadmetla, only to walk into a fool-proof trap laid by the rebels. Firing started at 5.45 am and by the time the rescue party reached the ambush site at 9.30 am, all 76 personnel, including 75 CRPF men and one policeman, were dead.
The report lashes out at the casual manner in which the state government and the CRPF leadership treated the men on ground. From poor living conditions for troops to lack of inspections, senior leaders not participating in operations and making short visits to far-off camps in helicopters, all issues have been highlighted in the report. Rammohan, in fact, called for a comprehensive change of approach and Standard Operating Procedure to salvage the situation. He also added: “I did not find any lack of training in the field but there is a lack of leadership.”
- CentreStage on April 1, 2013: http://indiatoday.intoday.in/video/headlines-today-decodes-the-2010-dantewada-massacre-india-today/1/260239.html
- News report: http://indiatoday.intoday.in/video/headlines-today-decodes-the-2010-dantewada-massacre-india-today/1/260239.html
- New Night report come discussion on April 1, 2013: http://headlinestoday.intoday.in/programme/2010-dantewada-massacre-decoded-india-today/1/260254.html
- Discussion on CentreStage on April 1, 2013: http://indiatoday.intoday.in/video/maoists-act-in-dantewada-in-2010-worst-of-its-kind-gd-bakshi-india-today/1/260256.html
- Home Secy RK Singh responds on April 2, 2013: http://indiatoday.intoday.in/video/maoists-dantewada-rk-singh-union-home-secretary/1/260376.html
- Naxal Tapes II expose on Friday, APril 5, 2013. Report and discussion: http://indiatoday.intoday.in/video/maoists-dandakaranya-forest-chattisgarh-security-forces/1/260935.html