All 32 missing cops feared killed

July 1st, 2008 - 8:00 pm ICT by IANS  

Visakhapatnam, July 1 (IANS) All 32 policemen of the elite anti-Maoist Greyhound force who went missing after Maoist guerillas attacked their motorboat in an Orissa reservoir near the Andhra Pradesh border are feared killed, officials said Tuesday. Three bodies were recovered in last two days and a search is still on for the remaining 32 personnel. The attack took place Sunday.

With no breakthrough in search operations even on the third day, the chances of finding them appear dim. Family members of the missing men and senior officials fear the worst.

After two days of search, rescuers could pinpoint the site where the motorboat sank due to heavy firing by the Maoists from nearby hills. The boat is yet to be retrieved, and the authorities fear that the bodies might have got trapped into it.

The policemen who were on top of the launch swam to safety while those inside were believed to have drowned with the launch.

The body of only one Greyhound constable was recovered from the reservoir Monday. Officials denied earlier reports that rescue workers retrieved four bodies. Two bodies were retrieved Monday.

The guerrillas of the Communist Party of India-Maoist carried out the worst-ever attack on Greyhound personnel who were returning from Orissa after a joint operation Sunday.

The Maoists fired rockets and resorted to firing from AK 47 rifles and light machine guns from hillocks surrounding the Balimela reservoir in Orissa’s Malkangiri district, close to Andhra border, some 220 km from here.

The motorboat which was carrying 63 personnel sank due to the heavy firing. Officials said 28 personnel swam ashore or were rescued and they included 10 who sustained bullet injuries.

Heavy inflows of flood water into the reservoir have made things difficult for the rescue teams. The water level at the site where the boat sank is over 150 feet and the services of senior navy officers have been sought to retrieve the boat.

Ten helicopters of the Indian Army, the Navy and the state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Commission (ONGC), two Gemini boats and navy divers were taking part in the rescue work.

Inspector General of Police (Greyhounds) Rajiv Trivedi, Visakhapatnam district superintendent of police Akul Sabarwal and Greyhounds group commander Vinjit Brijlal are supervising the rescue operations.

Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, who visited this port city Monday to call on the eight injured personnel undergoing at a hospital, announced a high-level inquiry into the incident.

Home Minister K. Jana Reddy, who accompanied the chief minister, hinted that the Greyhound party fell into Maoist trap by using the launch while returning from Orissa. He said the officials should find out why the personnel used the launch when there was a threat from Maoists.

Meanwhile, the agonizing wait continues for families of the missing Greyhound personnel.

While relatives of some men rushed to Visakhapatnam, others kept waiting with the hope of receiving some news about their whereabouts. The missing personnel came from different districts of the state.

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