A sniffer dog was killed while its handler, a CRPF jawan was injured on Tuesday in an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) blast during an anti-Maoist operation under Kurumgarh police station in Jharkhand’s Gumla district, police officials said. CRPF thanked the dog for his bravery and sacrifice, which helped save a team of CoBRA commandos from the powerful blast.

“His selfless sacrifice will be never forgotten and will always be remembered as an ACT OF VALOR. Shaheed DRONE was cremated with guard of honour and as per laid down procedure of the force,” a statement from CRPF said on Tuesday.

Officials said the incident happened at 7 am when a joint team of the 203 Cobra Batallion of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and the Jharkhand police was conducting an operation following specific information about Maoists movement in the forested mountainous pocket.

The security forces had killed a suspected member of the CPI (Maoists) in the same area on May 31 and recovered arms and literature, officials said.

“A specific operation was being conducted on Tuesday morning in the same area by the joint forces along with the dog squad and the bomb disposal and destruction squad (BDDS). During the operation, the team came under [the] impact of an IED [blast] in which swan Drone was martyred while its handler Vishwajit Kumbhkar got injured. The injured jawan was evacuated immediately and airlifted to Ranchi for medical aid. He is currently under treatment at a private hospital,” a statement from the Jharkhand police headquarters said.

Aged 6 years and 9 month, Drone was a male Belgian Shepherd (malinois), who was deployed in elite 203 CoBRA unit on 27th of December 2015 and diligently served the battalion by participating in 83 operations in almost all parts of Jharkhand state. A CRPF release said that Drone had found 4 containers of 40 kgs explosive each during an operation in Parasnath area in April 2016. The cache also contained detonators, cortex, mobile phone, walky talky, GPS. His efforts helped in avoiding any mishappening and saved valuable lives.

Forces like CRPF have been using sniffer dogs to detect minefields and explosives during anti-insurgency operations.

Officials said the area where the incident happened is riddled with IEDs planted by the CPI (Maoists). On several occasions in the past, innocent villagers as well as animals have been killed or injured due to these planted bombs in these forest areas, officials said.