Shot in abdomen by Naxals, abandoned by IAF crew, he waited for help for hours


Till over a fortnight back, Yem Lal Sahu, 29, was an agile young policeman with the Chhattisgarh Armed Force, looking forward to a big promotion and his wedding in the summer. Today, he lies on a hospital bed, fighting paralysis. A portion of his small and large intestines have been removed. Sometimes, his memory fails him.

A wireless operator, he was aboard the Mi 17 that flew in to rescue the security personnel injured in an encounter with Maoists in the forests of Sukma district on January 18. Maoists fired at the chopper and forced it to crash-land in the first incident of its kind. Sahu was hit by a bullet in the abdomen.

The IAF crew abandoned Sahu, as they rushed to the safety of a nearby CRPF camp. For hours, he was alone in the forest, sending signals for help. He was finally rescued and brought to Raipur the next afternoon.

"Due to delay in treatment, he developed haemodynamic instability that caused a paralytic attack," said Dr Sandeep Dave, director of Ramkrishna Care Hospital where Sahu was admitted on January 19. He has already undergone surgeries and will be operated upon again in another four-five months.

He can't talk much. Asked a question, he goes deep in thought, the strain on his forehead visible. "MSc (Botany)," he mumbles, almost inaudibly. "No," he corrects himself, "MSc (Maths)...only person from my village."

A resident of a village in Balod district, Sahu joined the Chhattisgarh police in 2010 with an MSc (Maths). Recently, he cleared the recruitment exams for Sub-Inspector, his physical test was due in January-end.

"His police career is over. He won't be able to work as a policeman now. A different kind of job will be required once he gains some strength in his limbs," said Dave.

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