New Delhi: CRPF is mulling an increase in the number of officers in its strike teams conducting anti-Naxal operations as facts emerged in the recent encounter in Chhattisgarh that as soon as the two commanders were shot dead, Maoists pinned down the trapped troops and killed a dozen others.
Officials who were part of the operations on December 1 near the encounter area in Kasalpada village in Sukma found that Deputy Commandant B S Verma and Assistant Commandant Rajesh Kapooriya of the ambushed 223rd battalion were grievously injured in the gunbattle as they were leading from the front and they succumbed to their injuries.
However, the ambushed troops retaliated strongly but they were soon outsmarted by Naxals as the team leaders were killed and there was no one to lead.
14 Central Reserve Police Force personnel, including Verma and Kapooriya, were killed in the encounter.
"The troops are trained to fight, come what may, but losing their leader surely affects their concentration and morale which seems to be case in this recent encounter," sources privy to the development said.
The latest incident, the sources said, has forced the force to think of the requirement of having more officers in small combat units so that in ambushes like the one at Sukma, the troops do not get disoriented from the task and feel leaderless.
They said more officers in the ranks of ACs, DCs and Second-in-Command would be placed in some chosen strike units which operate in the worst Naxal affected areas of states like Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Odisha.
"The elite anti-Naxal CoBRA commandos unit of the CRPF has a similar arrangement and it is being actively planned to implement this system in other regular units of the force too," they added.
In the gunbattle on the fateful day, a squad of about 90 CRPF men, split into four teams, was near the encounter area and a team of about 30-- led by D C Verma and A C Kapooriya-- were targeted by the Naxals from the village side taking the aid of local villagers.
The Naxals, before the nearby units could rush in, looted a good number of sophisticated weapons and ammunition of the slain soldiers.
The IAF helicopters, which rescued the injured and flew back the dead personnel the next day, also carried back six troopers of CRPF and one SHO of state police who contacted Malaria during the long-haul operation.
Meanwhile, a special committee formed to streamline operations in the state and headed by Senior Security Advisor in the Home Ministry and former CRPF DG K Vijay Kumar will submit its report to the government on December 15.
The six-member committee has been tasked to suggest ways to make anti-Maoist operations in the state "more effective."
The committee, set up on the orders of Home Minister Rajnath Singh who had toured Chhattisgarh after the incident, will also "examine the adequacy of the security forces and the suitability of the personnel deployed and the weaponary and equipment being used and make recommendations."