Upset over the Chhattisgarh incident wherein six IAF personnel, including two Garuda commandos, abandoned an injured state police radio operator and their arms and ammunition, the defence ministry has sought an explanation from the Indian Air Force.
Sources said that joint secretary (air) in the defence ministry, in the absence of defence minister AK Antony and defence secretary Shashikant Sharma, has asked the IAF to explain the conduct of its personnel who chose their safety over and above the safety of the MI-17 helicopter and life of an injured state police personnel.
The explanation sought by the joint secretary is separate and in addition to the inquiry that has already been ordered by the IAF into the incident.
Sources in the CRPF said that CoBRA commandos sent to secure the helicopter and bring back the injured police man, recovered 9 mm service pistol belonging to the helicopter pilot besides two LMGs with ammunition that the Garuda commandos had left behind.
“We cannot understand the conduct of the IAF personnel, especially the commandos, who are tasked to fight and come back from hostile enemy territory. This incident happened not in an enemy country but in their country with help at CRPF’s Chintagufa camp less than two kilometres away.
“Two commandos could have stayed with the injured police man as they had enough ammunition to stop even a company-strong Maoist attack,” sources in the state police said.
Putting up rather a weak explanation, the IAF in a statement on January 19 had said that suffering extensive damage after being fired upon, “quick response and professional handling of helicopter, flying it away from the fire zone to a safer zone, averted major loss of life and equipment. The complete crew then assessed the threat situation and condition of the injured CRPF jawan and decided to seek immediate medical help for injured jawan who was immobilised and also to secure the helicopter.”
Officials in the union home ministry said that the incident may be taken up at a higher level later.