'SOP not followed by force before Gadchiroli blast'
Senior police officers are certain this is why QRT was mobilised and died in IED blast, say department must also retrospect to avoid such incidents
A week after the IED blast that claimed 16 lives (15 QRT), senior IPS officers are certain that the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) which is in place in Gadchiroli, was not followed by the forces and their superiors, and insist that immediate retrospection is needed to avert such incidents.
Highly placed police officers informed mid-day that the department has already started an internal probe to fix the lapses, and has sent Sub-Divisional Police Officer, Shailesh Kale, on compulsory leave.
It might be recalled that kin of the slain QRT commandos had demanded a high-level probe in the case, and raised concerns about Kale calling the team from Kurkheda after the Maoists gutted vehicles and equipment at a road construction site.
'Laxity in following SOP'
Senior police officers who had served in the Maoist hit areas of Gadchiroli have cited a similar modus operandi used by them in 2016, wherein they had set 80 construction vehicles in Surajgarh, Gadchiroli on fire, and had laid a trap to attack the police forces. The bid was foiled, as the immediate deployment of police personnel was withheld by superiors, who were monitoring the incident. Large quantities of explosives were recovered during subsequent searches.
A senior IPS officer said, "The manner in which the recent incident occurred clearly shows that there was laxity in following the SOP. Such traps (burning vehicles, murdering, dacoity) are all ploys to get the police force mobilised to the location, to strike them. There was no hurry to mobilise the team and this incident (arson) should have been taken as a warning."
Another officer echoed similar concerns and said, "There was no need to rush to the location of arson. The police panchnama and other formalities could have been done later. But if the team had to be mobilised, the areas could have been sanitised by the Bomb Detection and Disposal Squad (BDDS) teams, and anti-mine/bulletproof vehicles could have been used to avert any untoward incident."
D Sivanandhan, former State DGP, who served in Gadchiroli for three years as DIG (Nagpur ange) said, "If someone has to die, it should be our enemy and not our police, who at times, due to zeal or over-enthusiasm of getting into the action, stop applying their mind."
He added, "My heart goes out to the families and children of these policemen for the irreversible loss. But I am sure that DGP Subodh Jaiswal, who himself was SP Gadchiroli and had done very good work in the area, will be able to tackle the issue better."
Former DGP A N Roy too said, "I don't have information pertaining to the incident and hence it won't be fair on my part to comment on what went right or wrong. But we must appreciate it is the same police force which succeeded in collecting apt intelligence on the Maoist movement and eliminated 40 of them in December 2018 (the largest Maoist casualties in one go in the country), and the recent attack is revenge."
Maoists kill one more
The Maoists gunned down a 42-year-old villager in the deep forest of Gattajambai in Etapalli thesil, Gadchiroli on Monday. Highly placed police officials attached to Gadchiroli police headquarters said that the deceased has been identified as Shishir Mandal, a native of Bande, Chhattisgarh. They claim he was killed due to some personal enmity.
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