New Delhi: The deadly Naxal attack in Chhattisgarh may have been led by Katakam Sudarshan, a central member of the CPI-Maoist, CNN-IBN has learnt. Sources said Sudarshan led a team of 150 Naxals to attack the Congress rally on May 25.
Sources also said the Intelligence Bureau had sent a generic alert that Sudarshan was active in the area and could be planning something. But since the warning was not specific, the forces at the ground could not take effective measures to counter the threat.
A large group of heavily armed Naxals had targeted the Congress convoy during the Parivartan Yatra in Darba Ghati on Saturday afternoon and almost wiped out the state party leadership. Among those killed were state party chief Nand Kumar Patel, his son Dinesh, Sulwa Judum founder Mahendra Karma, former Congress MLA Uday Mudliyar and two other people. The deceased included several other Congress leaders and security personnel accompanying the convoy.
As National Investigation Agency gears up to probe the deadly Naxal attack that wiped out majority of Chhattisgarh's state Congress party, security concerns that had been overlooked have surfaced.
Some serious security lapses are as follows:
1. The Maoist build-up on the Darba plateau went undetected: Local ground intelligence wasn't available and drones based in Hyderabad didn't have the range to surveil the area.
2. State Highway 211 from Sukma to Jagdalpur should have been sanitised: There should have been patrols checking for mines, and guarding against ambushes, but there weren't because there isn't enough force. The local police has just 150 men.
3. There were no sweeps to disrupt Maoist build-ups: Forces are pumped in to keep Maoists from building-up ahead of important events. The CRPF should have been out patrolling on both sides of the road, but wasn't, because of controversy over offensive operations which have caused civilian casualties.
4. All the Congress leaders in Sukma travelled together, presenting a plum target: The problem was, with just a handful of PSOs, travelling in ones and twos would have made each individual leader more vulnerable-so they decided to go as a group.
5. There was no means of getting in reinforcements: Faced with hundreds of Maoists, the PSOs soon ran out of ammunition. Fearing landmines, reinforcements had to travel by foot-which takes hours. There's no system for moving in reinforcements by helicopter, or calling for air support.
What the NIA now needs to probe now is why the Congress' rally route was changed at the last minute, who took that decision and why. Earlier the rally had planned to go to from Sukma to Dantewada via Gadiras. But the route was changed on the advice of a local leader of Dantewada, police sources said. The convoy finally decided to not go through Gadiras but instead opted to take the Tongpal, Darba Ghati route after leaving Sukma.
Senior Congress leader VC Shukla is stable but critical, his doctors at Medanta hospital said on Monday. He is on ventilator, but has gained consciousness, Dr Naresh Trehan, cardiovascular doctor at Medanta, said.
Meanwhile, the opposition Congress party's bandh will continue in the state today. The party's president Sonia Gandhi has called for a meeting in New Delhi to take stock of the Naxal threat.
"There have been security lapses. We have asked the NIA to probe. The buck has to stop somewhere. Punishment has to be meted out to someone, to whoever is responsible. At the Centre level or the state level," Minister of State Home RPN Singh said.
But the Bharatiya Janata Party has accused Congress of playing politics over the attack. "There is no difference between terrorism and Naxalism now. It is unfortunate that Congress plays politics over such attacks. We have hand cancelled today's Jail Bharo protest," said party Vice-President Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.
Samajwadi Party MP Naresh Agarwal, however, suggested that a strong, single campaign is needed to resolved the Naxal issue. "There have been no results from the NIA till now," he said.
IBN Newsroom Buzz: Praveen Swami on five things that went wrong and led to Chhattisgarh ambush