On Monday evening when Chhattisgarh police informed the Indian Air Force (IAF) detachment in Raipur of a sudden need to extricate its personnel injured by Maoist insurgents in Kanker district of Bastar, the rulebook and Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) simply did not permit the operation. Even the state government, despite repeated reminders had failed to install night landing infrastructure in helipads around police outposts. Notwithstanding, first ever night evacuation was conducted as a result of which the jawans could be brought in for treatment at Raipur. The IAF has been flying its helicopters since 2009 as a part of Operation Triveni which aims at supporting the anti-Maoist effort across central and eastern India.
Last Decemberâ€™s Maoist ambush in Sukma district of Chhattisgarh where no helicopter, either of Indian Air Force (IAF) or Border Security Force (BSF), took off in aid of ambushed Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) jawans was an instance of severe failure of coordination among forces.
The local police was leading an operation in the Pakhanjur region of the Kanker district when between 4-5pm, an exchange of fire was reported and it soon turned into a full scale encounter with the police claiming the death of the Maoist insurgents who attacked the police party. While additional forces were rushed and personnel extricated, two police personnel lost their lives while six others sustained injuries.
â€œFollowing the request, a Mi17 V5 helicopter took off at about 1820 hours, landed in the makeshift helipad in campus of the Bandeh police station in Kanker by 1915hrs and within ten minutes, it took off in pitch darkness to land back in Raipur by 2020hrs,â€� said a Ministry of Defence (MoD) official. It was an operation done despite obvious and present risks, he added. When probed, it was revealed that unlike south Bastarâ€™s Sukma region, in Kankerâ€™s Bandeh campus, there were no hillocks which the Maoists could have used to hit the choppers. â€œPeople may ask if we could do it here why not in Sukma but it needs to be understood there the terrain is totally different and here there is better familiarity,â€� said a source.