India: I won’t forget the scene for the rest of my life, says eyewitness of Chhattisgarh Naxal blast

10 police personnel onboard the multi-utility vehicle and its driver died after Maoists detonated an improvised explosive device


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Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel addresses the media after paying his last respects to police personnel who lost their lives in an IED attack by Naxalites  in Dantewada on Thursday. — PTI
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel addresses the media after paying his last respects to police personnel who lost their lives in an IED attack by Naxalites in Dantewada on Thursday. — PTI

Published: Thu 27 Apr 2023, 3:50 PM

Last updated: Thu 27 Apr 2023, 3:51 PM

The driver of a Scorpio that was right behind the vehicle targeted by Naxalites with an improvised explosive device (IED) in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district on Wednesday said he won’t be able to forget the day long as he lives.

He said a multi-utility vehicle (MUV) had just overtaken his Scorpio after he slowed down to chew pan masala. All 10 police personnel onboard the MUV and its driver died after Naxals detonated the IED and blew the vehicle into pieces.

Soon after the blast, the security personnel travelling in his vehicle jumped out and took position along the road and opened fire towards the forest, said the driver requesting anonymity.

“My vehicle was in the second position in the convoy. Seven security personnel were travelling in my vehicle. I slowed down the vehicle 150-200 metres before the spot where the blast took place to chew pan masala. The vehicle which was behind us overtook us and suddenly an explosion occurred. I think my vehicle was the target but God saved us,” said the driver, in his mid-20s.

Before the cloud of dust and smoke settled, all the security personnel and he jumped out of the vehicle. “They took position along the road and started shouting to take cover and surround them (Naxalites) and firing randomly, he said.

“The vehicle was blown in front of me. I saw pieces of bodies and the vehicle scattered on the road. I was completely shocked and crawled beneath my vehicle to hide,” he said.

The driver claimed that the firing continued for about 15 minutes but he did see any movement in the jungle.

“The security personnel told me to return to Aranpur following which I drove the vehicle back to the police station, around one kilometre away from the attack site. On the way back, I informed the two vehicles, carrying police personnel, which were coming from behind about the incident. However, by then they had realised that something had happened as the sound of the blast was so high that it could have been heard from far,” he said.

The driver said he then saw other District Reserve Guard (DRG) and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel moving towards the blast site on foot.

The driver said it was a close shave and he won’t forget this incident as long as he lives.

Struggling to hold his tears, the young man said he personally knew Dhaniram Yadav, the deceased driver of the ill-fated vehicle.

Visuals recorded on mobile after the blast have gone viral on social media in which security personnel can be seen taking position along the road and giving instructions to surround the area. Sounds of bullets can also be heard in one of the visuals and a person can be heard saying ‘pura udd gaya’ (completely blown up) in the background.

Nearly 200 security personnel from CRPF and state police’s DRG launched an operation from Dantewada district headquarters on Tuesday night after getting information about the presence of Maoists belonging to the Darbha division in the area, police had said.

On Wednesday morning, an exchange of fire broke out between the patrolling team and Naxalites near Nahadi village, around 7km away from Aranpur following which two suspected Naxalites were rounded up, they said.

Subsequently, the security personnel were returning to their base in a convoy of vehicles, many of them rented, police said without disclosing the number of vehicles in it.

There was a gap of around 100-150 metres between two vehicles in the convoy and Naxalites blew up the second one, an MUV, leaving it completely damaged and killing all 11 occupants on the spot, said an official.

The deceased security personnel belonged to the DRG.

Of the 10 deceased, eight were residents of Dantewada district while one each belonged to neighbouring Sukma and Bijapur district. Some of the deceased personnel had joined the force after quitting Naxalism.

DRG personnel are mostly recruited from the local tribal population and surrendered Naxals in Bastar division.

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