Inflicting a major blow to the Maoists, the police on Saturday gunned down 13 rebels, including a very high ranking Maoist leader and a woman cadre, in an encounter in Odisha’s Malkangiri district.
There was no report of casualty or injury of police personnel in the encounter that took place in the Salaikota forest in Padia police station area neighbouring Chhatisgarh, about 650 km southwest of Bhubaneswar. Police said it was the biggest casualty of the Maoists in an encounter so far in the state.
“Our forces have recovered all the 13 bodies of the ultras and same number of guns, including one AK 47 and several .303 guns, besides several rounds of ammunition and explosives from the spot,” south-west range deputy inspector general of police Devdatta Singh told HT.
Police is trying to identify the high-ranking leader who carried the AK 47 rifle.
Police said on Friday evening they received specific information that about 40 Maoists had camped in the forest after crossing over from Chhatisgarh.
A team of Odisha’s elite anti-Maoist force Special Operations Group (SOG) and District Voluntary Force (DVF) led by Malkangiri superintendent of police Akhileswar Singh immediately started a combing operation in the area and came face to face with the Maoists in the morning.
When the Maoists opened fire on the police team, the latter retaliated killing 13 of the Maoists, while others sneaked into deeper forest. Police suspect the group was involved in the attack on the convoy of Congressmen at Darbha in Chhatisgarh in which Salwa Judum chief Mahendra Karma, senior Congress leader VC Shukla and several others were killed.
“It is a major success in our drive against Maoists,” Odisha director general of police Prakash Mishra told reporters in Bhubaneswar before rushing to Malkangiri along with additional director general (intelligence) Abhay and inspector general Soumendra Priyadarshi to take stock of the situation. He warned the Maoists they would be dealt with strongly if they try to cross over from Chhatisgarh to Odisha.
The police in Odisha had intensified its operation against the ultras in Malkangiri – the strongest base of Communist Party of India (Maoist) in the state – since the past one month leading to surrender of over 25 Maoists.
On August 23, Maoist leader Madhav alias Golla Ramullu, who carried Rs. 4 lakh reward on his head, was killed in an encounter with the security forces in the district. Four days later, Maoist attacked a convoy of Border Security Force, which was going from the district to Vishakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh, in neighbouring Koraput district killing four personnel.
In 2012, at least 104 left wing extremism related incidents were reported in Odisha in which 14 Maoists, 19 security personnel and 27 civilians lost their lives. This year, so far 22 Maoists, five security personnel and 12 civilians have lost their lives in 40 incidents.