`Maoists have massively mined Chhattisgarh forests`

A top police official said the guerrillas have massively mined the state`s forested areas.

Updated: May 09, 2010, 23:56 PM IST

Raipur: A day after eight paramilitary troopers were killed in a landmine blast by Maoists in Chhattisgarh`s Bijapur district, a top police official said the guerrillas have massively mined the state`s forested areas and it was difficult to de-mine the vast stretches without the technology required.

"The big problem is we have no technology and resources to de-mine the massive forested pockets. Without taking out landmines it`s literally impossible to go after them freely in thickly forested areas where Maoists are always ready with a booby trap," Director General of Police (Chhattisgarh) Vishwa Ranjan said Sunday.

Eight Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) troopers were killed Saturday when Maoist guerrillas blew up their vehicle in Bijapur, nearly 480 km south of state capital Raipur.

The bullet-proof vehicle was blown up in the Koretal forested stretch. A CRPF personnel and two civilians were injured in the blast.

The coffins of the eight slain CRPF men were Sunday brought to Raipur. They were offered floral tributes and given gun salutes in Mana area on the outskirts of the city after their post-mortem examination was completed at the Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar Government Hospital here.

Saturday`s blast comes just a month after 76 security personnel were massacred by the rebels in the same region in one of the deadliest attacks April 6.

Both the attacks took place in the Bastar region, spread over nearly 40,000 sq km area of which up to 25,000 sq km is intensively mined, Ranjan said.

A police officer said on condition of anonymity that the two attacks had rattled the security forces.

"I admit that forces in the Bastar interiors have gone defensive. Neither the state police nor the paramilitary forces are ready with heart and mind to go after the Maoists in thickly forested areas that are heavily mined," the officer said.

State Home Minister Nankiran Kanwar said he was in favour of the army taking over the anti-Maoist operations

"I think the army should take over the job to wipe out Maoists. I am saddened by the attacks coming one after another and the loss of lives of our brave soldiers," Kanwar told reporters.

He described Saturday`s attack as a "a gross neglect of guerrilla warfare rules and a complete intelligence failure".

Chhattisgarh`s Bastar region, comprising five districts - Dantewada, Bijapur, Narayanpur, Bastar and Kanker - has been the nerve centre of Maoist militancy since the late 1980s.