Mar 11, 2014 at 09:40pm IST

Chhattisgarh heads for Lok Sabha polls amidst repeated Naxal strikes

Raipur: The Naxal strike again in Chhattisgarh just a month ahead of the general elections clearly indicates that the election season would not be an easy ride for security personnel in the state.

Nearly 200 heavily armed Maoists opened fire at security personnel in Chhattisgarh's Sukma on Tuesday killing 16 of them. There were 44 personnel from the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and Chhattisgarh Police in the road opening party when they were attacked by the red ultras.

Chhattisgarh Police ADG Mukesh Gupta confirmed the deaths. "The incident happened at around 10:30 am. Causalties on Naxal side have not been determined yet. The injured security men have been taken to the hospital," said Gupta.

"The joint police party had gone out for road opening at 9 am. The party started at Tongpal area and was ambushed by Naxals as they moved ahead. We had losses because of topography which was not favourable to us. There were 44 men in two teams. The forces fired back and as a result the other isolated party was saved," he said.

Tuesday's attack took place near the spot where the top brass of Chhattisgarh Congress was killed in May 2013. Road construction was on in the Jiram Ghati when the Naxals struck. The encounter between the forces and Naxals lasted for nearly 30 minutes.

The attacks just a month ahead of Lok Sabha elections has left the Home Ministry worried. While Union Home Secretary called an emergency meet over the incident, Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde will be accompanying Chief Minister Raman Singh to the spot on Wednesday morning. It has decided to send 3,000 to 4,000 additional troops to Chhatisgarh in view of the forthcoming elections. The MHA will also begin combing operations in all Naxal states from day after.

The CM expressed regret and said that security will be beefed up for the Lok Sabha elections. "50-60 companies will not do. They will have to double the forces for the elections," he said. He added that the state was under attack by the red ultras due to its development work. "We will construct the road, bridges. These incidents are happening because of this construction. We were ready for any kind of attack," said Singh.

Meanwhile, Shinde, too, assured that the incident was being taken seriously. "I spoke to DG CRPF and told him to reach spot immediately. Cannot comment on intelligence failure at this stage I condemn this attack. It is the second time in same area. we have taken it very seriously," he said.

It was only last week that the Naxals had used the same strategy in Bijapur to ambush and kill five state police personnel.

Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi too condemned the incident and condoled the death of security personnel.

BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi too slammed the red ultras for targetting Chhattisgarh, he said, "Brutal killing of security personnel in Chhattisgarh is despicable. No words can be enough to condemn such acts.We salute the brave souls who sacrificed their lives for the nation. Condolences to their families. Our prayers with the injured.We stand shoulder to shoulder with people of Chhattisgarh. Anti-national forces can't be allowed to derail the state's development journey."