On the evening of 23 January 2017, a bus met with a major accident near Mardapal in the naxal affected district of Bijapur in Chhattisgarh. Three passengers died on the spot and a large number were injured critically. 19 CRPF jawans too were travelling in the bus. A request was made to the Task Force Commander (TFC) of IAF’s Anti Naxal Task Force (ANTF) to evacuate a CRPF jawan at night from Bijapur helipad.
One Mi-17V5 helicopter of the Task Force at Jagdalpur was immediately tasked to get airborne for this emergent casualty evacuation mission. However, in view of reports of a large number of casualties, the TFC asked another helicopter too to be kept in readiness. The prevalent conditions were very demanding and visibility conditions were poor. Soon the requirement increased to two helicopters. In view of the threat to the helicopters from the naxals, the State Police and CRPF provided a sanitisation security cover at the helipad. Keeping all their external lights off to mask the approach while using Night Vision Goggles, the IAF pilots carried out a landing at the helipad in darkness. These two helicopters evacuated seven critically injured passengers, including two CRPF jawans to Raipur.
This life saving mission was yet another instance where the IAF’s helicopter task force carried out a daring mission at night in naxal infested Bastar region with utmost alacrity demonstrating its commitment towards aid of the Police and civil administration involved in anti naxal operations. Such missions serve as tremendous morale booster for the troops, knowing that the IAF would be ever ready and ever willing to come to their aid. Since its inception as a small task force in 2009, ANTF has carried out about 20,000 sorties flying 15,000 hours, lifting total 1900 tonnes of load and 86,000 troops and passengers. The task force has also recovered more than 1050 casualties.