New Delhi: Security forces deployed in the anti-Naxal combat grid have launched a massive operation to find out and defuse IEDs as over 260 troops have either been killed or injured in these blasts in the last three years, officials said Thursday.
They said the decision has been taken after it was seen that Maoists were increasingly relying on Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) to target security force personnel deployed in the Left Wing Extremism (LWE) combat grid.
As per latest data, over 73 security personnel have been killed in IED blasts in various states over the last three years time while more than 179 have been injured.
The data pertains to the period between 2017 and August this year.
The maximum such fatal and non-fatal casualties have taken place in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh that is stated to be the worst-Naxal violence affected state by security forces, owing to the high casualty rate of forces.
“A massive operation is being conducted to seek and destroy IEDs in various LWE affected states. The CRPF, other central armed police forces (CAPFs) and state police forces have been sensitised about the threat posed by these concealed bombs,” a senior security official based here said.
The number of IED blast incidents have also been more-or-less the same over the last three years time period, he said.
The data shows that while a total of 43 such incidents took place in 2017, they rose to 79 last year and over 51 have been recorded till August this year.
Similarly, 6 civilians were killed in these Naxal triggered blasts in 2017, 8 last year and three have lost their lives this year.
“The Naxals are now not getting into one-to-one battle with forces as their combat strength has depleted along with their weaponry and ammunition. The sustained operations by the CRPF and other forces has surely taken a huge toll on them. They are hence looking to hit the security forces through IEDs which ensures that they do not have to face the forces,” CRPF Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Moses Dhinakaran said.
The Central Reserve Police Force is the lead security force for anti-Naxal operations in the country and has deployed close to a lakh troops for this task in various states.
The force has recovered over 1,500 IEDs during the same time period, the data said, with 830 being in 2017, 425 last year and the rest during this year.
Small teams comprising explosive detection dogs and personnel equipped with deep search detectors have been deployed for the latest operation, an official based in Chhattisgarh said.
“We do not have gadgets or equipments that can detect a hidden IED in all cases but vulnerable areas have been mapped and an extensive drive is on to seek these bombs out and destroy them in a controlled manner,” the Chhattisgarh-based officer added.
The CRPF has also tasked its special and one-of-its-kind counter-IED institute in Pune, called the Indian Institute of IED Management, to analyse the technology of these improvised bombs in circulation, create awareness material for forces and also study new prototypes being developed.