They faced death for 26 straight hours. They lost three of their brothers-in-arms, but they kept smiling even as blood soaked their bodies.
Around 200 CRPF personnel trapped deep inside a forest surrounded by over 300 Naxals have been evacuated safely. Besides the three martyred jawans, 17 personnel were injured and twelve are in a critical condition.
The CRPF jawans were pushing their way into the Naxal headquarter in the Dabbamarka forests in Kishtaram of Chattisgarh’s Sukma district.
The operation was launched on March 1 with 159 personnel of the CRPF’s COBRA 208 battalion and 30 members of Sukma Police’s District Reserve Group.
It was inside the forest that Naxals ambushed them from three different sides. The jawans marched 7 km dodging bullets all the way trying to reach their own camp at Kishtaram.
When it appeared impossible to reach the camp during the night through the Naxal infested forest, the forces were ordered to stay put in a village called Potakpalli.
They had supplies to last five days, but the jawans were finding it difficult to communicate with the operational headquarters due to poor satellite signals.
The jawans lay low in pitch darkness.
An injured jawan, sub inspector Podambar, would later tell reporters that even the light of a matchstick could have put all of them at risk.
Reinforcements arrived the next morning – around 300 more personnel from the COBRA 208 battalion. Another 300 strong force was kept on standby.
The trapped jawans were rescued. They had successfully struck in the heart of Naxal operations in the Dantewada region and killed around a dozen naxalites.
The naxals were able to take away the bodies of their own while the time the CRPF personnel were busy in countering the ambush.
The forces lost constables Linju N and Fateh Singh to bullet injuries on Thursday, and Lakshman Singh on Friday.