Raipur: When Naxals struck in a deadly attack in Chhattisgarh on Monday, Chandan Kumar, 24, was among the 12 security personnel who was injured. 14 men died in the ambush in the deep forests of the Sukma region.
They were all with the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), a paramilitary unit. The attackers had used villagers as human shields.
“Sir, you should see the conditions we work in,” says Chandan Kumar, lying on a hospital bed. “I can’t,” I respond, “men like you fight in places where angels fear to tread.”
These were small words of support for a man who saw his entire life flash in front of his eyes as he lay on the ground, pinned by Naxal gunfire, clutching his thigh which had been shattered by a high-velocity burst of gunfire from an AK-47.
“I didn’t know I was hit. I kept firing. I was told by another jawan that there was blood. I walked nine km with the support of a friend to our post at Chintagufa.”
The CRPF forces were returning to their camp after carrying out an operation deep in a forest when the gunmen attacked.
“They were hiding in the homes of the villagers. These homes were locked. We had left the village when they opened fire. At the same time, villagers came screaming towards us. We didn’t fire. In the process, they surrounded us. We killed 20-25 Naxal fighters. I saw this with my own eyes,” Chandan Kumar said.
Today, Chandan Kumar, who still hasn’t told his family in Bihar’s Jehanabad what happened, is recuperating at the Ramkrishna Care hospital in Raipur. Some of the other jawans are in far worse condition and are undergoing surgeries to remove shrapnel and bullets lodged in them.
Sources in the CRPF say there are no quick military solutions to ending the guerrilla war in parts of Chhattisgarh. In the densely forested hills of South Bastar life and death remains a daily reality for our forces.