Jharkhand Armed Police joined the Central Reserve Police Force and Bihar police as they resumed an anti-Maoist combing operation after at least 10 CRPF soldiers were killed in an attack by the rebels in a forest in Bihar.
Officials said four Maoists were also killed in the nearly 10-hour operation that took place in Dumari Nala forest area on the border of Gaya and Aurangabad districts, 172km south of Patna, where the CRPF had launched a combing operation. Bodies of three Maoists have been recovered so far.
Union home minister Rajnath Singh spoke to Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar about the incident on Tuesday morning. Jharkhand rushed in reinforcement after the Singh and Kumar spoke over the phone.
“We have sought help from Jharkhand. The JAP has been asked to converge on the forest area from Palamu and Chatra side,” Patna zonal inspector general (central zone) NH Khan said.
Police said the operation was launched two days ago and the 205th Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA) zeroed in on the rebels in the dense forests of Langarahi and Panchrukhia around Dumri Nala.
They were acting on an intelligence input that Sudhakaran, a top Maoist commander, was inducted into the region to assist ‘Sandeep Ji’, the zonal commander to plot a spectacular strike. Sandeep Ji carries a reward of Rs 5 lakh on his head.
Khan said that the Maoists used 35 improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Automatic weapons, an AK 47 assault rifle, a grenade and an Insas rifle were reportedly recovered from the scene.
All the seven injured soldiers are reported to be out of danger. Khan said two others were on their way to Anugrah Narayan Magadh Medical College Hospital (ANMMCH) in Gaya from the Amas base camp of the CRPF.
Pancharam Arya (26), Ravi Shankar Yadav (32), Udaybhan Singh (32) are being treated in Patna and Mithun Kumar Goswami (21) and DS Rao (26) have been admitted to the ANMMCH.
Goswami, who has a splinter injury on his leg, said the blasts took place when additional reinforcement was being sent there. He said heavy casualties were reported during the blasts.
Sources said the bodies of the soldiers had to be carried on foot for 20 km from the interiors of the jungle to Amas, from where they were brought on a tractor and then on an ambulance.
Maoist rebels, known as India’s biggest internal security threat, operate in 20 states and have thousands of fighters, according to the home ministry.
They have been fighting for more than three decades in central and eastern India, staging hit-and-run attacks against authorities as they demand a greater share of wealth from the area’s natural resources and more jobs for farmers and the poor.