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15 Dantewada victims battle for life
Published on 18 May. 2010 10:08 PM IST
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As many as 15 people were battling for life in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district Tuesday, a day after Maoist guerrillas blew up a crowded passenger bus and killed at least 35 special police officers (SPOs) and civilians on a state highway.
“So far we have recovered 31 bodies, this is a mix of SPOs and civilians. Since several bodies were found in pieces, it’s difficult to say the exact break up SPOs and civilians but I put the death toll of SPOs at around 10,” Dantewada Superintendent of Police Amresh Mishra told IANS over the phone.
“The death toll may rise further as I have information that up to five dead civilian bodies were taken away by local people and their relatives,” he said.
“The 15 injured people included 14 SPOs who are very critical and have been admitted to different hospitals in Dantewada, but 25 other civilians who received minor injuries returned to their villages without informing the police. We are trying to find out their exact location so we can reach out to them medically,” Mishra added. Chhattisgarh’s Director General of Police Vishwa Ranjan added that SPOs killed in the blast belonged to a unit named Koya Commando, known for their bravery and heroism in the anti-Maoist operation.
“For several months Maoists were looking for an opportunity to hit Koya Commando jawans as they were proving to be lethal,” Ranjan told IANS. He said roughly 3,500 SPOs in the state are local youths.
“We will keep recruiting SPOs in the state, mainly in the 40,000 sq km restive Bastar region. SPOs have always proved to be handy and I believe that their help is essential to dismantle the Maoist terror infrastructure in Bastar’s five districts- Dantewada, Bijapur, Bastar, Narayanpur and Kanker,” Ranjan said.
I was blinded by the impact: Blast survivor
Sukhram and Vijay, both teachers, were traveling from Dantewada to Sukma. On the bus that the Naxals blew up on Monday in Chhattisgarh. They say the next time they see a policeman board a bus, they will get off it.
The two teachers had boarded the bus at the first stop, Dantewada. The special police officers (SPOs) boarded a little while later midway to Sukma. Sukhram recalls that, “some of them managed to get in, some climbed on the roof of the bus. There were 25 to 30 of them. And then the blast happened.”
Asked what he saw when the blast occurred, Sukhram says, “I was blinded by the impact of the blast.”
The other teacher, Vijay speaking to NDTV, says the blast was followed by firing. “We wanted to help people get out of the bus after the blast but we couldn’t because of the firing.”
The Naxals are believed to have targeted a civilian bus because they had spotted the SPOs boarding it. The SPOs are recruited from among the locals and have emerged as the biggest threat to the Naxals.
But civilians like Sukhram and Vijay would rather want that police personnel not get into civilian buses. “It is a problem for them and for us. If they get into a bus then someone will definitely inform about their presence,” says Vijay.

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