Two Maoist leaders among 16 rebels killed in encounter in Gadchiroli
A special combat unit of Maharashtra police killed 16 Maoists during a fierce gunfight on Sunday in the thick forests of Kaswapur in south Gadchiroli, some 400 km south of Nagpur.
Sunday’s deaths dealt one of the biggest blows to the extremist rebels in recent years, and police said the casualties included two senior activists and three women. At least 10 other rebels were hurt in the encounter that raged over three hours, police said, adding the injured managed to escape.
“We had information about the movement of Perimili dalam of the CPI (Maoist) near Tadgaon. So, we launched an operation on Saturday evening. On Sunday, around 9.30am, an encounter ensued that continued for hours. This is the first time that two divisional committee members of the CPI (Maoist) have been killed in one operation,” said DIG (Gadchiroli range) Ankush Shinde.
Sharad Shelar, the inspector general of police (IGP) for Nagpur range, said the area had been surrounded and forces were carrying out a combing operation.
Officials said the Saturday evening’s operation was led by an elite anti-Maoist squad of the Gadchiroli police called C-60.
Officials said the casualties included Sainath and Srinu, divisional committee members of the south Gadchiroli committee. Srinu alias Srikant, 51, was from Telangana and was regarded as a senior leader of the movement. His wife, Shyamala, who was also in the Maoist movement, fled from the forests after purportedly taking Rs 35 lakh from the party fund. She surrendered before the Telangana police in 2012.
Sainath, 31, joined the movement in 2004. His wife, Sarita, who was deputy commander of the Perimili squad, was killed in an encounter near Tadgaon in April, 2016.
Gadchiroli police killed three suspected Maoists, including two women, in an encounter in the district on April 3. Among them was another divisional committee member, Sunil Kulmethe, and his wife Swarupa.
Since January, police have killed at least 27 Maoists in different encounters in the district.