At least 15 Maoist rebels were killed in five days by security forces in Chhattisgarh, the CRPF said on Tuesday but added not a single body has been recovered so far.
One CRPF jawan was also killed in the operations while two others were injured, a spokesperson of the central force said in Delhi.
Some of the slain rebels could have been involved in an ambush that killed 25 CRPF jawans in south Chhattisgarh’s Sukma on April 24, one of the biggest losses faced by the central force engaged in anti-insurgency operations in the state, it said.
The number of Maoist casualties was based on information provided by villagers on the borders of Sukma and Bijapur districts besides the ground troops, the official added.
The operations were carried out between May 12 and 16 by state police and CRPF’s Commando Batallion for Resolute Action (CoBRA), a special unit raised to tackle Maoist insurgency, identified as India’s biggest internal security threat.
“As per teams (which took part in the operations) more than a dozen Maoists were killed in (three) encounters and it could be more as we don’t know the exact number,” said DM Awasthi, the state police’s special director general in-charge of anti-Maoist operations told Hindustan Times.
Maoist rebels – who claim to be fighting for the poor and marginalised communities – are known to take away bodies of their fellow-militants from encounter sites.
The CRPF said around 150 Maoists were involved in these encounters and most of them are believed to be from Telangana, which is also battling Left-wing insurgency..
“Since they (the rebels) were using automatic weapons including UBGL (under barrel grenade-launchers) and the distance from Burkapal, where Maoists killed 25 jawans on April 24, is not more than 20km, it can be said that the Maoists consisted most of those who participated in the Burkapal attack,” another CRPF officer said.
In a related development, the CRPF and Chhattisgarh police claimed to have arrested eight Maoists who were allegedly involved in the April 24 ambush. Since the incident, 18 Maoists have been arrested in the case.
“These Maoists were involved in the Burkapal attack and their quizzing will continue,” said Sundararaj P, the deputy inspector general of southern Bastar range.
(With inputs from HT Correspondent in Delhi)