Downed chopper: Police say Maoists making propellers, rocket launchers
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The Chhattisgarh Police has found that Maoists are at an advanced stage of developing indigenous propellers and rocket launchers, which not only means that their strategic strength is rising but also that they pose a serious threat to aircraft in the Bastar region. On Friday, for the first time, they managed to bring down an IAF helicoper, forcing it to crash-land in Sukma district of the state.
There were several incidents last year of Maoists using mortars or rocket launcher-type equipment to fire bombs at police posts. However, none of these has so far been able to cause major damage as some fell short of the target and others were not powerful enough.
The Sunday Express has seen booklets and diagrams in Maoist camps as well as equipment seized by police that confirm the trend. While it appears that the equipment are not in the final stages, the fact that Maoists are working towards knocking down choppers alarms the police.
"They are certainly at an advanced stage of developing some form of propellers and have been regularly testing these by hurling bombs at our posts. So far the bombs are not so powerful as to cause any major damage. But it could be because they are only experimenting and testing the waters right now," Narainpur SP Mayank Srivastava told The Sunday Express. "Once they develop these fully, they will assume a very strong position, especially against a moving object like a chopper."
At present, the Maoists seem to have two major kind of propellers — traditional mortar-like equipment to hurl an explosive or a projectile and propellers fitted with bombs that are similar to rocket crackers seen during Diwali.
"They seem to have these rocket like crackers in plenty. So far they are only testing these but it may not be too far off before they develop some capacity," Kanker SP Rahul Bhagat said.