The Naxalites of CPI (Maoist) suffered a major blow when six of its senior activists, including a Dalam commander, were killed in an encounter near Etapalli, some 300 kms from Nagpur in Gadchiroli district, on Friday morning.
According to reports reaching here, the divisional headquarters, the incident occurred at 6.30 this morning and the encounter continued for over an hour. On a tip-off that some Maoists had assembled to hold a meeting in the forest area of Todsa under Etapalli police station, a special police party went there and raided the Naxalites hideouts.
The additional SP of the district, Manoj Sharma informed that the exchange of fire took place when the Maoists opened fire on the police forces after it had approached the jungle. At least six Naxalites were killed while the police recovered only one body from the jungle.
"The Maoists had succeeded to escape from the spot along with their colleagues, including the bodies of slain Maoists," he claimed. Among the killed Naxalites, one of them is believed to be the Dalam commander of Etapalli. The lone body which was recovered from the jungle is yet to be identified, Sharma added.
A massive search operation has been launched in the area and police officials of the adjoining states have been alerted. The police have seized three rifles, huge arms and ammunitions, several kitbags and Naxalite literature from the site. On the basis of Naxalite literature and documents, police suspected that besides a Dalam commander, few other senior leaders of the organization were present in the meeting.
The Friday incident is considered a big success for the police force in the naxalite-prone district that was demoralized in the wake of series ambushes by the left-wing extremists in recent past. As many as 34 police personnel, including five female constables, were killed in three separate encounters in the district this year alone. This had led to set up a range police headquarters in Gadchiroli, headed by a deputy inspector general (DIG) of police by the state government.