NEW DELHI (TIP): As investigations by different agencies into the Darbha massacre in Chhattisgarh gather momentum, it is now emerging that there may actually have been a last-minute change in the route of Congress cavalcade diverting it to Darbha Ghati where 28 people, including senior Congress leaders, were gunned down by Maoists in an ambush last week.
Sources in CRPF, which conducted spot inquiry into the lapses that led to the attack, say that not only were there glaring mistakes committed by the security apparatus, there are also strong indications that someone got the route of the Congress rally changed at the last minute. Sources said it was natural for the Congress rally to come via Gadiras in Dantewada as it wanted to cover more areas in the tribal belt.
“It had already done the Darbha Ghati route while going to Sukma from Jagdalpur. Several sources told us that the original plan to come to Jagdalpur was via Gadiras in Dantewada. However, it is not clear when, how and who suggested a change of route,” said an officer privy to the details of spot enquiry. The rally plan given to Chhattisgarh Police did not mention preference of route, said sources.
It only mentioned about journey from Jagdalpur to Sukma and back. “The route plans were intimated orally to the police hours before taking them and accordingly security arrangements were made,” said the officer. The National Investigation Agency (NIA), which is probing the incident, will look into this matter, said sources. If the information is found to be correct, it would point to a conspiracy where the agency would have to ascertain whether the route change suggestion was given to save time — there is a difference of 50km between the two routes — or with prior knowledge of an ambush. Sources said, the security set up was found to be fairly inadequate as there were only three state police personnel with each company of CRPF.
“That is why between Darbha and Togpal forces could do road opening only upto 5 km on each side on a stretch of 25 km. The incident occurred right in the middle,” the officer added. Enquiry found that Naxaliteleaning villagers were stationed at certain intervals on the route and gave real time relay signals of the approaching cavalcade to the Maoists.
There were also lapses on part of the state police in failing to conduct even a coordination meeting on security where proper stock of the situation would be taken and responsibilities divided among central and state forces for rally security. All decisions were left to local police even as the district SP was absent.