Left in the hit chopper, cop kept seeking help for 5 hrs

The special CRPF commando unit that went out to secure an Indian Air Force Mi-17 helicopter that was forced to crashland in the Sukma district of Chhattisgarh after being fired upon by suspected Maoists on Friday could not locate the chopper for two hours. The six IAF personnel inside the aircraft who returned to a nearby CRPF camp after leaving behind an injured Chhattisgarh police wireless operator could not provide the exact location, officials said.

Meanwhile, the wireless operator, identified as Constable M S Sahu, kept sending out SOS calls on his communication equipment. For at least five hours, he kept requesting his colleagues to have him evacuated, to just get him some water. Airlifted to Raipur finally on Saturday afternoon, his condition is critical, said Abhishek Shandilya, SP (Sukma).

Preliminary investigations have revealed the chopper was fired upon at least 14 times by suspected Maoist cadres on the ground. "From the marks found on the body of the chopper, we can say that a mix of weapons was used. There has been use of both .12 bore guns and sophisticated weapons," Chhattisgarh DGP Ram Niwas told The Sunday Express.

Asked if the state police would take up with senior IAF officials as to why their constable was left behind, he said: "The IAF personnel did their best to save the situation and we are not going to lodge any protest. We have to work in close coordination."

Though the Chintagufa CRPF camp is only 3 km from the spot where the chopper crashlanded, IAF personnel took two hours to make their way there and then another two hours to relocate the chopper both due to absence of knowledge of the local terrain as well as lack of a wireless communication device, which had been left with Sahu. The constable himself was not able to give the exact location as he was bleeding and could not move.

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