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Push for anti-Naxal Operations in Red Zone, But Evacuation of Injured Personnel Big Challenge for CRPF

Evacuation has become a major predicament as the availability of choppers is almost zero at the time of operations, CRPF officials say. (Representational image/Reuters)

Evacuation has become a major predicament as the availability of choppers is almost zero at the time of operations, CRPF officials say. (Representational image/Reuters)

Last year in September, the CRPF issued a communication saying that the involvement of senior officers in operations is decreasing. The letter also talked about reviews done by seniors and said that the quality of operations is important.

While there is a push for operations against Naxals in the so-called red zone, the evacuation of injured Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) jawans and its specialised Commando Battalions for Resolute Action (CoBRA) personnel is becoming a major concern and the biggest challenge for the force.

In a recent encounter, assistant commandant Bibhor Kumar Singh and two others got injured in the afternoon and the chopper could not be arranged until late at night. Finally, the evacuation was done by road and after reaching Gaya, injured jawans were sent to Delhi through air ambulance after waiting for choppers for hours.

According to a CRPF official document, chopper support for evacuation and medical attention was sought and the command base was informed. “As our troops were in proximity of village Panchrukhiya, command base informed that due to certain constraints/ technical glitch it was not possible to airlift patients from Panchrukhiya and Langorahi helipads and evacuation teams were directed to rush towards Tari Helipad and it was intimated that 02 bikes with Medical Team and 01 coy of 47 BN CRPF are en-route towards village Langorahi,” the document says.

The evacuation team and medical team united and physical diagnosis and first-aid were provided to severely injured Bibhor Kumar Singh and Suman Pandey. They were shifted to an ambulance and further they were moved to Gaya Airport and they arrived there at about 10:25 pm. “As the pilots were unwilling to fly citing weather conditions & visibility, the chopper did not take off and because of the reluctance of the pilots, all three injured who were earlier put inside the helicopter were then taken out of the helicopter and again shifted in the road ambulance and then admitted in the ANMCH, Gaya where they were administered and operated by the team of the doctors,” the document says.

Bibhor is now receiving treatment in Delhi AIIMS. Having been hit by an IED blast, he has had a left foot amputation below the knee, his right foot is severely injured and there are multiple injuries on his left hand.

News18 has sought a reaction from the CRPF on the matter and the story will be updated after getting a response.

This is not the only such case. Last year, the CRPF had to sacrifice 22 jawans in Bastar, the chopper couldn’t land due to multiple reasons, and it took hours for the bodies to be removed from the encounter site.

According to sources in CoBRA, evacuation has become a major predicament as the availability of choppers is almost zero at the time of operations.

“Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar all places have seen massive operations. But during operations, evacuation is an issue. There have been cases where backup or support couldn’t reach on time, endangering lives of jawans injured in operations,” a commandant-level officer told News 18.

Last year in January, the CRPF launched bike ambulance services to facilitate the evacuation of injured jawans. During the launch, the-then director general AP Maheshwari said that it will give timely treatment to injured jawans involved in operations. But according to a CoBRA official, these bikes are not very useful. “Where we conduct operations, there are hardly any roads or ways. We walk kilometres and fight. In case of injury, these bikes can’t reach the site due to no roads or paths. Also, severely or heavily injured jawans can’t sit on these bikes. They are hardly of any use in the red zone,” a senior CoBRA official told News 18.

On the other side, the top brass of CRPF is pushing for operations with whatever resources are available on the ground.

Even in the recent case where assistant commandant Bibhor along with two others were injured, there was a message to continue with the operation.

“Please prepare rotation plan for them for further continuance of Ops accordingly and same be forwarded to this office,” an official communication issued by CRPF regarding holding of the operation at Langurahi says.

Last year in September, the CRPF issued a communication saying that the involvement of senior officers in operations is decreasing. The letter also talked about reviews done by seniors and said that the quality of operations is important.

“Certainly there is a push for continuous operations from the top-level but evacuation, backup, additional support are a concern. Ground forces get trapped without any support just like in the case of the Bastar encounter where 22 CRPF jawans were killed in action,” the CoBRA official said.

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first published:March 02, 2022, 07:30 IST