Bastar SP suspended, Sukma SP was away

Three days after the attack on the Congress's Parivartan Yatra, the Chhattisgarh government on Tuesday suspended Bastar SP Mayank Srivastava, replacing him with Ajay Yadav. It also transferred Bastar IG Himanshu Gupta to CID, and shunted out Bastar Collector P Anbalagan.

A D Gautam and Ankit Anand have been picked to replace Gupta and Anbalagan respectively. DGP Ramniwas is now set to personally look after all VIP security in the state, assisted by Raipur IG G P Singh and DIG (SIB) Deepanshu Kabra.

The government also set up a one-member judicial commission headed by Bilaspur High Court Justice Prashant Mishra to probe the attack. He has been asked to submit a report within three months.

Saturday's attack took place on the Bastar-Sukma border. According to the security protocol to be followed in Left Wing Extremism (LWE)-hit districts of Chhattisgarh, the SP and other senior officers must remain on duty during VIP visits, and the area must be sanitised well in advance. However, when the Congress's yatra reached Sukma on Saturday, SP Abhishek Shandilya was away on an anti-Maoist operation in the interior forests of the district, with no communication network.

The yatra was planned well in advance and the district authorities were informed about the impending visit by top state Congress leaders, including PCC chief Nand Kumar Patel, former union minister V C Shukla, former state minister Mahendra Karma and other former MLAs. Yet Shandilya was sent for the operation about 10 days back. He returned only today. No other IPS officer was deployed in his absence and no special security arrangements were made.

When the Congress convoy of around 20 vehicles left Sukma, they only got a pilot vehicle with four-five policemen from the local thana. There was no road opening party as they crossed the serpentine Darbha Ghaati, among the most dangerous zones in Chhattisgarh as it is considered the best area for planning an ambush.

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