Days after the deadly Maoist attack in Chhattisgarh’s Sukma in which nine personnel were killed, the Commandant of CRPF’s 212 battalion seems to be in trouble. As per a report, Commandant Prashant Dhar of the 212 Battalion was warned of an attack on the morning of 13th March. It is learned that CRPF DG RR Bhatnagar had given Dhar strict instructions about not to make any movements that day. However, Dhar ignored that warning and despite orders allowed two Mine Protected Vehicles (MPV), full of CRPF personnel, to travel from Kistaram to Palodi.
As per the Home Ministry sources, Bhatnagar was in Chhattisgarh on Tuesday when the attack took place. In the morning around 9 am, he was informed of a gunfire between the Maoists and a team of CoBRA commandos during a sanitation exercise near Palodi. He immediately then informed his Inspector General in Chhattisgarh to make sure that there was no movement between Kistaram and Palodi. He warned that Maoists were around the area and could mount another attack. As per sources, the IG had passed on the instructions to the Deputy IG concerned who informed Dhar.
A senior Home Ministry Official was quoted by IE that despite the warning, the Commandant rather showed a casual attitude towards the safety of the personnel. The official added that although Dhar has a good career record, this mistake of his cannot be pardoned. He said that Dhar not only failed to stick to the common practice during such situations but also did not follow instructions.
Sources said the Maoists had got a hint of the impending visit and had set up an ambush ahead of Palodi on the Kistaram-Palodi road. The Maoists fought for long with the CoBRA commandos and left only after area weapons were fired. At around 11 am, Sukma SP Meena reached Kistaram intending to go ahead to Palodi. He was accompanied by about 100 men from the District Reserve Guards and Special Task Force of the state police.
Despite the Commandant and deputy commandant reminder of the morning attack, Meena insisited on going ahead with the troops. Meena sent his men to an area sanitization and road opening exercise and asked for some from CRPF when he decided to leave about an hour later. Commandant Dhar then decided to send some of his men who had to join duty at Palodi behind the Sukma SP in two MPVs, one of which was an IED target. The Home Ministry official said that the Commandant should not have come under pressure as it was the question of the life of his men. He should have followed instructions given to him by the DG, the official added.