Why was injured cop left out: MoD to IAF

A concerned Defence Ministry has asked the Air Force to explain the circumstances under which a seriously injured policeman, Y L Sahu, was left behind in a downed Mi-17 chopper in Chattisgarh last week after it was targeted by Naxals.

The IAF had earlier said that the crew including commandos of the elite Garud force left the crash site, leaving behind the injured policeman, to look for medical help. The ministry has now asked for a formal report from the IAF.

"It is a very sad incident. I have asked for a report from the IAF," Defence Minister A K Antony said on Wednesday. With new facts emerging, Antony has also asked for "information from other sources" into the incident.

Senior officials say the way the operation was handled seems to be "against the ethos" of the armed forces. Sources pointed out that Air Chief Marshal N A K Browne had last month emphasised on not leaving "your men and machines behind" at a leadership summit of the IAF.

Though the air crew has been lauded for safely landing the chopper that was hit on rotor blades and fuel tank, its subsequent actions have come under a cloud.

The IAF had attributed the decision to leave behind Sahu to the "complete crew that assessed the threat situation". It had said that due to his serious injuries, he could not be moved out. But the fact that Sahu was rescued five hours later by a CRPF detachment to a safe camp on a motorcycle demolished the IAF view.

Reports say the IAF elite commando force and its air crew crawled their way to a nearby security post has also raised the concerns of the ministry. The air crew took over two hours to cover the three km between the crash site and the CRPF camp in Chintalgufa.

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