National Defence Bureau,
New Delhi, 24 June 2017
Chhattisgarh Police and CRPF launched a major operation code named Op Operation Prahar in Sukma district against maoists. The Anti Naxal Task Force (ANTF) of the Indian Air Force had been involved in large scale troop transportation missions for this operation. Subsequently, ANTF was on hot standby for any eventuality.
On Saturday 24 June at around 1000 hrs, information began to be received that a heavy exchange of fire was on between naxals and a combined party comprising of Special Task Force (STF) and District Reserve Guards (DRG) of Police in Tondamarka located about 20 km south of Chintagufa in Sukma.
Soon information was received of heavy attrition to naxals and also certain casualties to security forces. In view of the high threat, Task Force Commander of IAF decided to task his helicopters in buddy mode. The remote naxal infested area was in the jungles amid thick vegetation.
It was reported that five STF jawans had sustained bullet injuries, with three reportedly seriously injured who required urgent evacuation.
The area was a high threat zone close to the ongoing operations area. Since the nearest helipad for Mi 17 operations was at a distance away, a decision was taken to launch the helicopters to evacuate the casualties from the encounter area itself in the field.
Soon two helicopters were airborne from Sukma at 1250 hrs with a medical team on board. Displaying great courage, one IAF helicopter landed in the heart of the encounter zone, at a small clearing in the heavily forested remote area. The five jawans were safely airlifted to Raipur for medical treatment, flying more than two hours in the process. The most notable aspect of the mission was the quick response of he IAF in undertaking a very high risk mission in an active operation area by landing right where the casualties were, and not a secure helipad that is the usual norm. The casualties are recovering at the hospital.