Maoists in Chhattisgarh have claimed that the joint forces of the state and the Centre conducted air strikes in Bijapur district in the wee hours of April 19 using drones and helicopters.
Calling it as the first such air offensive against 'people's movement' in the country, the Maoists have claimed that they shifted in time 'to avert massive danger'.
They claimed that 12 bombs were dropped using drones and helicopters causing losses to wildlife and damage to forest. They also released two photographs—apparently of the place of airstrike and debris of the bombs allegedly used in the strike.
The Bastar Inspector General (IG) of Police, Sundarraj P., has however denied the Maoist allegations as 'totally baseless' and added that the Maoist organisation will be finished off soon.
In a press statement released on Wednesday, Vikalp, the spokesman of the Dandakaranya Special Zonal Committee (DSZC) of the Communist Party of India (Maoist), said that the attack was undertaken around 3.00 am of April 19 between the Bottalanka and Palagudem villages under Pamed police station area in Bijapur.
It may be mentioned that it was under the Pamed police station area that the Maoists had ambushed a joint team of security forces on April 3, killing 22 security personnel and injuring 31. Maoists had accepted that four of their cadre were killed in the encounter, though Bastar police claimed the Maoist casualty to be at least 12 to 14.
Calling April 19 'a black day', the Maoists asked the ministers and people's representatives of Bastar region to condemn the airstrikes and stand up against 'fascist ways of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah. The statement also claimed that the governments are trying to keep the airstrikes under wrap.
Meanwhile, in a statement shared with THE WEEK, IG Sundarraj said, "The allegation being levelled by Maoists regarding air strike/drone attack are totally baseless and it's an outcome of fear and confusion in the rank and file of Maoist cadres."
The IG added that the security forces in Bastar operate within the legal framework with a single objective of protecting life and property of the native population of the region.
It is the CPI Maoist cadres who have taken away lives of thousands of innocent civilians by using IEDs and explosive materials. They haven't even spared children, women and animals during their desperate attempts to harm the security forces by using IEDs.
Even on Wednesday, one ITBP officer was seriously injured and one cow got killed in an IED explosion triggered by the Maoists in Narayanpur, the officer said.
"Maoists, who are responsible for killing thousands of innocent villagers including women and children doesn't have any moral authority to level such baseless allegation against the security forces.
It is high time that the Maoists restraint themselves from unleashing cruelty against innocent tribals of Bastar and let the native population lead a peaceful life," the IG said.