Home dept rebukes C-60, whose men celebrated and shared photos and videos after Gadchiroli raids. Says such behaviour inappropriate, can put them at risk.

The state home ministry has expressed anger over socialmedia photos and videos showing commandos from the special anti-Naxal unit ‘C-60’ posing with bodies and celebrating after a major operation in Gadchiroli district, where nearly 40 Maoists were killed.

The ministry has told the state-born force that such actions by the elite personnel were not appropriate and could pose headaches related to discipline and post-operation secrecy. Commandos involved in high-profile missions should not be exposed through posts on WhatsApp or YouTube for their own safety, officials have said.

C-60 is a unique unit comprising mostly well-trained personnel from indigenous tribal groups. Over a threeday period starting April 22, its teams killed 37 Maoist guerrillas during gun battles in Gadchiroli’s jungles without suffering any casualty. Three divisional committee members of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist) were among those killed. It was one of the biggest successes against Maoists in Maharashtra’s history.

Some pictures shared on WhatsApp allegedly showed commandos posing next to bodies and arms and ammunition recovered during the operation. In videos posted online, they can be seen dancing during a night-time celebration away from the shootout sites. Some can be seen holding up their phones to film the jubilant scenes.

“This is a complete breach of protocol that is followed after such operations. The identity of officers and personnel involved in the operations should not be revealed to protect them from being targeted by Naxals in revenge killings,” said a senior official in the home ministry.

Citing an example, he added: “The identity of military personnel who took part in the surgical strikes across the Line of Control in Kashmir has been keep secret even after two years of the operation.”

Sharad Shelar, inspector general of police, Anti-Naxal Operation (ANO), refused to comment on the home ministry’s rebuke. But a senior police officer who was previously associated with ANO said the ministry was right in issuing a warning. “Many jawans of C-60 are local tribals. There have been instances where Naxals targeted not only policemen but also their family members,” he said.

The home department official said commandos who were part of last month’s raids had been asked to keep a low profile and avoid venturing outside their camps alone.

Shirish Inamdar, a former superintendent of police, State Intelligence Bureau, was more critical of the celebrations by C-60 commandos. “They were unbecoming of a special force,” he said.

Inamdar, who studied the Naxal problem extensively as an intelligence officer, waded into the complex debate about viewing the rebels as enemy combatants. “In the end, those killed were Indian citizens who chose a wrong path.”

C-60 was created in 1992 to fight the Maoist insurgency in Gadchiroli and adjoining districts. It was the brainchild of the then superintendent of police KP Raghuvanshi. Initially, the unit was named C-60 because initially it had only 60 personnel, a figure which has gone up significantly over the years.