Raipur: Survivors of the daring Naxal attack at Darbha ghati in Bastar on Congress leaders on May 25 say at least two children were also part of the massacre. A survivor claimed that two boys warned them not to go into the area.
"A small boy, aged about 11, carrying walkie talkie told us to go. He told us 'don't go further'. He kept on pointing towards the jungles and hills," said survivor Devender Yadav, a member of Congress's student wing NSUI.
Devender Yadav survived, but were children part of the group that killed 24 Congress leaders, workers and security personnel in Darbha's Jeeram ghati in Chhattisgarh on May 25.
"They were not children from near by village. They were with Naxals," claimed Devender.
Human Rights organisations say the Naxals may have recruited up to 2,500 child soldiers. Devender is convinced that the average age group of those who attacked the Congress convoy in Darbha was between 15 and 20 years.
If gun totting minors shocked the Congress workers, what shocked them even more was the refusal of the local police personnel to come to their rescue.
"The policemen travelling with us in a vehicle reversed and disappeared before we blinked," said another survivor Aakash.
At the Tongpal thana 18 policemen heard the survivors but did nothing to send reinforcement to the security guards who were fighting a losing battle.
"We rushed to Tongpal thana. It was locked. There was no positive response from the police the entire night," said Devender.
The situation was no different at the Darbha thana on the other end of the Jeeram ghati. The now suspended Superintendent of Police reached two hours late, even though villagers housed across the road from Darbha police station say they heard about the ambush minutes before it began.
The question now villagers ask - is it enough to just suspend the SP? Will it ensure that next time policemen will not lock them selves up inside the thana when asked for protection?