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Chhattisgarh's Entire Forest Area A Minefield

Security forces battling Maoists in the deep jungles may be facing another novel challenge. Officials believe that the ultras planted Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) deep under the roads when the roads were being constructed in
PTI May 10, 2010 13:54 IST
PTI
Security forces battling Maoists in the deep jungles may be facing another novel challenge. Officials believe that the ultras planted Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) deep under the roads when the roads were being constructed in order to escape detection, reports The Times of India.

The security forces have equipment which can detect landmines/IEDs that are  planted just under the surface, but these scanners are not powerful enough to pick up explosives that are planted deep under roads.

Meanwhile, DGP (Chhattisgarh) Vishwa Ranjan told IANS that the guerrillas have mined the state's entire forested area and it was difficult to de-mine the vast stretches. “The big problem is we have no technology and resources to de-mine the massive forested pockets,” he said.

The Bijapur incident, which saw eight CRPF personnel killed on Saturday, could just be the beginning of what the Red ultras might have planned long ago not only in Chhattisgarh but also in other states.

Security personnel in Jharkhand last month detected an IED — carrying 50 kg of explosives — meant for planting along highways. Chhattisgarh, however, was not that lucky and officials believe the ultras might have placed the IED at the time of construction of NH-16 in Bijapur long ago. The episode also points to Maoists' connivance with road contractors in the exercise, leading the state police to round up many people in the area on Sunday.

CRPF sources said the police had recovered a 300-metre-long wire from the incident site near Pedakodepal village indicating the Maoists blew up the bullet-proof vehicle from a distance.

“The kind of device used by the ultras on Saturday can be triggered at will, years after they are planted. We suspect many such devices have been planted in different states,” said an official.

Normally, security forces suspect presence of Improvised Explosive Devices when they spot loose stones or wet soil on the road surface. Such devices can be picked up by scanners because they are planted just beneath the surface. But when deadly bombs are planted deep under the road, they raise no suspicion and are difficult to detect using available scanning devices.

“If IEDs were planted long ago, the road will look quite normal and people can drive over them. When the Naxals want to blast it, all they do is connect the wires and set it off,” said the official.