Policemen gun down 26 Maoists in Maharashtra

Updated on Nov 14, 2021 04:39 AM IST

People aware of the developments said that four police officials were seriously injured in the gunbattle that lasted for about 10 hours, and were airlifted to Orange City Hospital in Nagpur for treatment.

Medical staff treat injured police personnel at Orange City Hospital. At least 26 naxals were killed in an encounter with police in eastern Maharashtra's Gadchiroli district. Four police personnel were also seriously injured in the action and were taken to for treatment, in Nagpur. (HT PHOTO)
Medical staff treat injured police personnel at Orange City Hospital. At least 26 naxals were killed in an encounter with police in eastern Maharashtra's Gadchiroli district. Four police personnel were also seriously injured in the action and were taken to for treatment, in Nagpur. (HT PHOTO)
By, Hindustan Times, Nagpur

At least 26 Maoists were killed in an encounter with security forces in the dense forests of Maharashtra’s Gadchiroli district, officials said on Saturday evening, in one of the deadliest counter-insurgency operations in the region since 2018 when 42 Maoists were killed in two encounters.

People aware of the developments said that four police officials were seriously injured in the gunbattle that lasted for about 10 hours, and were airlifted to Orange City Hospital in Nagpur for treatment.

The major offensive came after specific intelligence about the movement of the Maoists from Chhattisgarh to the forests of Mardintola and Kotgul, under the Gyarapatti police station, for a meeting, the officials said.

The site of the encounter is over 900km away from Mumbai and borders Chhattisgarh.

A special police party with jawans of the C-60 force, an elite anti-Maoist squad of the district police, led by additional superintendent of police Soumya Munde, raided the Maoist hideouts at around 6am, the officials said.

“Police had received secret information that there was a camp of Naxalites in the Gyarapatti-Kodagul forest of Korchi, on the basis of this, the C-60 unit of Gadchiroli Police started the search operation in Gyarapatti-Kodagul forest from 6am on Saturday morning,” Gadchiroli superintendent of police Ankit Goyal told news agency ANI.

During the raids, the left-wing extremists started firing at the security forces that retaliated the gun fire, the official said. The encounter continued till 4.30pm, he said. A special combat force of the district police was sent to the forest to aid the security efforts, Goyal said.

“We have recovered the bodies of 26 Naxals so far from the forest,” Goyal said, adding that toll may increase as a search operation in the area is still going on, amid sporadic gunfire. The slain Maoists include women commanders, the official said. The bodies of the slain Maoists will be brought to Gadchiroli for post-mortem examination, Goyal said.

Officials believe that the heavy casualties suffered in the encounter will have disastrous impacts on the Maoist movement. Gadchiroli is one of the dozens of Maoist hotbeds dotting central and eastern India.

“Gadhchiroli, after being developed into a strong zone, became the pivotal point in the Maoist dominated areas particularly in Bastar, enabling supply of logistics, medicines and medical treatment to the cadres, “ a senior Chhattisgarh Police official said. Over the past few years, the extremists have attempted an expansion into the MMC zone (Maharashtra-Madhya Pradesh-Chhattisgarh confluence) -- a new area adjoining the Kanha reserve that they are seeking to enter.

Gadhchiroli also offered a safe passage for cadres and senior leaders of the outfit’s central committee to travel to MMC zone. “The gradual decimation of Maoists in Gadchiroli will have disastrous impact on growth of Maoists in MMC region. Maoists in Bastar will be isolated with pressure across Gadchiroli, Telangana, AP and Odisha,” another official in Chhattisgarh said. While the identities of the Maoists are yet to be ascertained, people familiar with the matter said that many senior members of the Communist Party of India (Maoist) were killed in the operation.

Milind Teltumbde, a central committee member, who was once the secretary of the Maharashtra unit of the CPI (Maoist), is suspected to have been one of the targets in the encounter, the people cited above said.

Maharashtra home minister Dilip Walse-Patil told PTI that the police were verifying if Teltumbde was among the slain rebels. Teltumbde, along with his brother, Anand Teltumbde, a Dalit ideologue, is an accused in the Bhima-Koregaon violence case. “We will be able to provide all the details tomorrow after the identification,” Goyal said.

A police official in Chhattisgarh said Teltumbde was tasked with the consolidation of the MMC zone.

“After the identification of MMC zone, Milind Teltumbde was appointed as the head of the zone and Gadhchiroli division was tasked to oversee the expansion and consolidation of the MMC zone”, the official said.

The police have recovered a huge cache of arms and ammunition, and Maoist literature from the encounter site, Goyal said.

Saturday’s encounter is the one of biggest operations since 2018, when around 42 cadres of the Maoists were killed in two separate encounters with the Gadchiroli police in Rela-Kasnasur and Nainer forests on April 22 and 23, 2018.

Srikant alias Srinu, the in-charge of the south Gadchiroli division of the CPI(M), and Dolesh Madhi Atram alias Sainath, were among those killed in the twin encounters.

The encounter has dealt a blow to the extremist forces. Bose, alias Kishan Da, was arrested along with his wife Sheela Marandi, a central committee member of the banned outfit. According to official records, 43 CPI(M) members gave up arms in Gadchiroli between 2019 and 2021.

Apart from this, Maoists of the Dandakaranya Zonal Committee have claimed that 96 members of the outfit died between July 2020 and July 2021. Of these, they said, 27 were women cadres.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Pradip has been a journalist for over two decades. He covers the RSS , politics, farmer suicides, issues in the Maoist belt of central India and wildlife. He is based in Nagpur.

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