In the Chhattisgarh Maoist attack, over 22 brave soldiers were killed and over 30 were injured, after launching an anti-Naxal attack. On Saturday, April 3, multiple security forces carried out an anti-Naxal operation on the border of Sukma and Bijapur in Chhattisgarh.

According to the reports, the security forces were ambushed by the Naxals and a shoot-out commenced in which individuals from both side lost lives and got injured. The security personnel had gotten off crucial pieces of information about a top-Naxal leader named Hidma who was hiding in the South Bastar forests. Hidma is responsible for the 2013 Naxal Attack in which 30 people died, including some Chhattisgarh Congress leader.

According to the Press Trust of India, out of the 22 dead personnel, 8 men were from the CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force), 8 men were from the DRG (District Reserve Guard) and 6 were from the STF (Special Task Force). Meanwhile 23 injured soldiers were rushed to the Bijapur hospital and the rest were rushed to Raipur Hospital.

According to reports, over 1,500 troops were on a search and destroy operation in Bijapur and Sukma border. The contingent was given inputs about Naxal presence in the region along with tip-off on the presence of the wanted Naxal leader Hidma.

An officer was quoted by ANI saying, “Inputs were received that Naxals were carrying out their Tactical Counter Offensive Campaign (TCOC) in the Jagargunda-Jongaguda-Tarrem axis, and hence security teams from six camps were deputed to intercept them.”

The officer further claimed that the Naxals drew the Indian security forces into the state of an ambush. After a heavy gunfire from both sides, the Indian side requested helicopter sorties for evacuation. PTI also reported that the Naxals were using LMGs (Light Machine Guns) and IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices). The gunfire and ambush continued for 3 hours.

Here are some visuals from the ground, courtesy ANI:

Who is Hidma, the man responsible for taking lives of several Indian soldiers?

According to India Today, Hidma is the leader of the People’s Liberation Guerrilla’s Army (PLGA) and also a member of the Maoists Dandakaranya Special Zonal committee (DKSZ). Coming from Puvarti village in Sukma district, Hidma joined the Naxalite movement in the 90s. Estimated to be in his 40s, he leads the command of around 180-250 Naxalites. He is the mastermind behind several Naxal attacks such as the Jeeram Valley 2013 Attack in which 32 people died. This included top leaders from Chhattisgarh Congress as well. The homegrown Maoist carries a reward of Rs. 40 lakhs and is known carrying out deadly ambushes.

Indian security forces trapped due to faulty intelligence?

Meanwhile, some sources claim that the ambush involving the security forces and the Naxalites was acted on faulty intelligence on Indian intelligence’s part. According to the sources reported by NDTV, the intelligence had received information about the presence of Hidma and his associate Sujatha in the Jagargunda-Jongagunda belt.

However, CRPF Director General Kuldiep Singh claimed that no operational or intelligence failure was the reason because of which 22 Indian security personnel died. Singh also added that 25-30 Naxalites were also taken down and were taken away on trolleys.

“Had it been some intelligence failure, forces would have not gone for the operation”, he was quoted saying.

Meanwhile, Home Minister Amit Shah ended up leaving poll-bound Assam and arrived at Delhi amid the news of the Maoist attack. Mr. Shah assessed the situation and said claimed that the search operation is still on.

Mr. Shah also reassured Indians that the soldiers that lost their lives will not have their sacrifice wasted.

“Our men have lost their lives, we will not tolerate this bloodshed and a befitting reply will be given at an appropriate time,” Mr. Shah said.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi also took to Twitter and paid tribute to Indian soldiers, claiming that their sacrifices will not be forgotten.