4 CRPF jawans killed, 3 hurt as colleague opens fire with AK-47 in Sukma

Sukma/New Delhi, Nov 8 (PTI): Four CRPF jawans were killed and three others injured after their colleague opened fire at them in a camp of the paramilitary force in Chhattisgarh’s Sukma district in the wee hours of Monday, a police official said. The incident took place at around 3.15 am in the camp of the ‘C’ company of Central Reserve Police Force’s (CRPF) 50th battalion in Linganpalli village under Maraiguda police station of the area of the district, located nearly 400 km from the state capital Raipur, Inspector General of Police (Bastar range) Sundarraj P said. As per preliminary information, constable Reetesh Ranjan (25), a native of Bihar who was to proceed on leave from November 13, fired at his colleagues with his service weapon, an AK-47 rifle, leaving seven of them injured, the official said. The seven injured jawans were immediately shifted to a hospital in nearby Bhadrachalam area of neighbouring Telangana, where doctors declared four of them dead on arrival, the official said. Ranjan (25), a native of Jehanabad in Bihar, was sanctioned leave from November 13 and he had booked a train ticket. He was about to get transferred to another unit of his battalion in Jammu and Kashmir as per the transfer policy of the paramilitary force, Sundarraj said. Those killed were identified as constables Rajmani Kumar Yadav, Rajib Mondal, Dhanji and Dharmendra Kumar, he said. The accused constable was immediately nabbed and was being interrogated to ascertain the exact reason behind the incident, he said. A preliminary investigation suggested that no quarrel took place between the accused constable and the victim jawans recently. There was also no issue of leave and service matters with Ranjan. The exact motive behind the incident will be known after an investigation,” the IPS officer said. However, in New Delhi the CRPF said the jawan who allegedly killed four of his colleagues and injured three others may have been suffering from “emotional stress” leading to sudden psychological disbalance. Sukma Superintendent of Police Sunil Sharma told PTI that Ranjan was scheduled to be on sentry duty at the camp from 4 am and after getting ready for it, he allegedly opened fire at his colleagues who were sleeping in a barrack. Around 40 to 45 jawans were sleeping inside the barrack at that time. After all the bullets in Ranjan’s rifle got exhausted, he was overpowered and captured by some of his colleagues who woke up on hearing the sound of gunshots, the official said. As per preliminary information, Ranjan and the victims had been exchanging jokes and teasing each other for the last two to three days. The accused might have been offended with the teasing and hence, took such a step, Sharma said. Two of the three injured jawans were being airlifted to Raipur for further medical assistance, while the other one was undergoing treatment at Bhadrachalam, the SP said, adding their condition was stated to be out of danger. A postmortem of the deceased jawans was conducted at a medical college in Jagdalpur and their mortal remains will be sent to their native places on Tuesday morning by flights, Sharma added. Of the deceased jawans, three belonged to Bihar and one was from West Bengal, he said. Senior CRPF and police officials visited the Linganpalli camp after the incident, he added. “The local police has begun investigation into the case and all legal actions will follow. The CRPF has ordered an inquiry into the incident to ascertain the cause of the incident and suggest remedial measures. “Prima facie, it seems that due to some emotional stress leading to sudden psychological disbalance, constable Reetesh Ranjan lost his control and in a fit of rage opened fire on his colleagues,” a CRPF spokesperson said in New Delhi. The spokesperson said the local CRPF deputy inspector general (DIG), Commandant of the 50th battalion in which the shooting took place, and other senior officers visited the incident site. “Easy availability of a firearm to a personnel who either ends his life or attacks his colleagues is a big challenge for security forces. Different solutions are being looked to check this issue, but a perfect one is still to be found,” a senior CRPF officer said in the national capital. The paramilitary force, which has deployed over 28 battalions in the state for anti-Naxal operations, recently issued a communication to all its formations to identify personnel who are either under depression or stressed, and undertake appropriate counseling for them to curb suicide and fratricide-like incidents. The CRPF is extensively deployed in south Bastar, comprising Bijapur, Dantewada and Sukma district for anti-naxal operations. Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel expressed grief over the fratricidal incident and directed police officers to take necessary measures to ensure such incidents do not recur, according to a government statement. In his condolence message, Baghel termed the incident as unfortunate. In another government release said, the CM asked police officers to take necessary steps to ensure such incidents do not recur. He instructed authorities to provide best treatment to the injured jawans, the statement said. With this incident, as many as 15 security personnel have died in five cases of fratricide in the state in the last three years, according to police officials. In a similar incident on January 29 this year, a CRPF jawan was killed and another one injured after their colleague opened fire at them in their camp in s Bastar district. The offender had then tried to commit suicide by shooting himself, they said. On May 29 last year, two Chhattisgarh Armed Force (CAF) jawans were killed and another one was injured after an assistant platoon commander of their unit opened fire at them at a camp in Narayanpur district. On December 4, 2019, six Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) jawans were killed at the camp of 45th battalion of the paramilitary force in Narayanpur district in a similar incident. In the wake of incidents of fratricide and suicide, the Chhattisgarh Police in June last year launched a special campaign, titled ‘Spandan’, for security staff to overcome mental stress and depression.