An injured radio operator left behind by an Indian Air Force (IAF) crew after their helicopter crash-landed under Naxal fire in Chhattisgarh yesterday is in critical condition in hospital.
The radio operator, Head Constable M R Sahu of the Chhattisgarh police, was rescued by commandos of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) from jungles in Bastar yesterday evening. He was flown out of Chintagufa on the Chhattisgarh-Andhra Pradesh border this morning and admitted to a hospital in Jagdalpur.
Another Chhattisgarh policeman injured in a gunbattle with Naxals yesterday afternoon has also been brought to the same hospital. He is one the policemen that the IAF helicopter had set out to rescue when it was shot down by Naxals in Timilwara.
Some 150 commandos are guarding the damaged M-17 helicopter in Bastar. IAF engineers are on way to the area. The helicopter's hydraulic systems and generators are learnt to have been damaged.
A Chhattisgarh police spokesperson said the IAF crew will be spoken to and the circumstances under which they left the radio operator and the helicopter behind found out.
In an inexplicable decision, the six IAF crew members had yesterday left the radio operator in the grounded helicopter and gone looking for help. The helicopter had two light machine guns with about 100 rounds of ammunition and other personal weapons.
"We are unable to understand why the captain and the crew decided to leave behind an injured man and the helicopter," a senior Home Ministry official told NDTV yesterday.
An IAF spokesperson has maintained that the crew's first task was to seek support to secure the helicopter and get medical attention for the radio operator.
The pilot too has told Chhattisgarh officials that his primary duty was to save the remaining crew members.