On March 21, in the deadliest attack on Chhattisgarh police in the last five years, Naxals killed 17 jawans of police’s District Reserve Guards (DRG) unit. While the rest of the country was observing the one day Janta Curfew, announced by the prime minister, the families of the deceased soldiers were grieving.
Some families were angry over reports about soldiers not being equipped properly, while family members of some other deceased soldiers were eager to take the place of their loved ones in combat.
News18 spoke to members of three such families in a bid to understand their grief and with some serving jawans in DRG units to understand what life was like at the frontlines of fight with the red extremists.
One of the deceased jawans, Hemant Manikpuri, was the youngest of five siblings. He had joined the state police two years ago and after finishing his training was placed in a DRG squad. He was the only one among his siblings to be in government service, which is why he shouldered the emotional and financial burden of his entire family.
Hemant had called up his father at 4 o’clock in the evening of March 20th, hours before he left on a mission to flush out Naxals from their base. The state intelligence had picked up information about a major congregation of Naxals from nearby states like Telangana, meeting with the top brass of CPI (Maoist) in the jungles of Kassalpad.
Around 600 jawans from CRPF and state police were sent on the mission to flush out the Naxals. However, as reports suggest so far, it seems that the Naxals had the information about the huge counter-insurgency operation before hand.