Back-to-back encounters on Monday and Tuesday have forced the Gurabandha Maoist squad led by its Bengal-Odisha-Jharkhand Border Committee (BOJBC) secretary Kanhu Ram Munda on the back foot, with officials saying that the extremists are currently holed up on Jonda hills.
About 150 rounds of firing were reported from both sides which could be heard from Rahregora School and Teensimana village.
The Gurabandha squad fled to Jonda hills on Monday night after joint operation at Dangra hills forced them to abandon their camp there. The encounter on Monday broke out after CPI (Maoists) posters cropped up at the Kuilasuta village panchayat building, calling for the observance of a ‘Black Day’ on August 15.
Central reserve police force DIG (operations) Sandip Kumar camped at Asti picket, overseeing the joint operation by the operational team of Jamshedpur police, Musaboni-based CRPF battalion 193 and COBRA battalion in the jungles of the Jonda hills, 90 km from Jamshedpur.
COBRA battalion commandant Kamalesh Kumar said they have cornered Kanhu on the Jonda hills and the operation will continue till he is neutralised. The battalion reached the Jonda hills on Tuesday afternoon in two helicopters and was engaged in extensive search operations with sniffer dogs.
Two former extremists — Mangal and Geeta, who surrendered on July 21 — confirmed that Kanhu’s squad was losing strength and popularity, adding that five more members were ready to desert the squad.
The police said the squad was presently left with 11 members.
“We have blocked the supply line and a series of encounters since July 2 have left them with a shortage of ration and ammunition. Self-styled area commander Supai Tudu’s wife Sonali and Gurubari are the two women still in the squad. We hope Mangal and Geeta’s surrender will inspire more squad members to follow suit,” Jamshedpur senior superintendent of police Anoop T Matthew told HT.
District police on May 26 had attached the parental properties of both Kanhu and zonal commander Sachin Mardi. Security forces seized 50 detonators, large amount of explosives, food items and materials of daily use from their camp.