Naxal hit: MHA tells MoD to probe IAF men conduct

More than a fortnight after IAF crew abandoned an injured policeman in Chhattisgarh during a rescue operation, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has asked the Defence Ministry to "inquire into the conduct of IAF personnel and take action".

"Such an act by the members of an armed force of the Union is extremely disturbing," wrote Home Secretary R K Singh in a letter to Defence Secretary Shashikant Sharma. The letter was drafted after obtaining an incident report from the CRPF and the Chhattisgarh police.

On January 18, an IAF Mi-17 helicopter engaged in evacuating injured personnel had to make an emergency landing after coming under fire from Maoists. The crew fled the scene leaving behind an injured wireless operator Yem Lal Sahu, the damaged chopper and their weapons. Later a CRPF team traced the chopper and the injured police personnel at 10 pm.

The MHA also criticised the IAF crew for leaving behind their weapons. "The conduct of IAF appears to be clear violation of Standard Operating Procedure on the subject," the MHA letter noted. The letter said the act also reflects on the "battle hardiness" of the IAF personnel who accompanied the crew.

The IAF had ordered an inquiry soon after the incident. They had defended the decision to leave behind the injured constable by stating that they had gone to seek help from the nearby police station.

The IAF had also complained that the Chhattisgarh police had not secured the landing site at Timelewada forest. But the MHA contested that they have taken up this issue separately.

The Maoist had fired 19 bullets at the IAF helicopter damaging the fuel tank and injuring the constable.

The security forces argued that had the Maoists got to the spot where the helicopter made its emergency landing, it would have been impossible to rescue the injured policeman.

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