AT LEAST six Maoists were killed in an encounter with a joint team of the CRPF and district police in Budha Pahadi area of Jharkhand’s Latehar district on Wednesday morning.
Latehar SP Anoop Birthare said that a search operation involving CoBRA 209 Battalion and the district police was undertaken in the morning following information that a Maoist squad was present in the area for a meeting. The encounter started around 6.45 am and lasted around an hour, during which heavy gunfire was reported. A search later led to the recovery of six bodies.
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IG (CRPF) Sanjay Anand said the security forces recovered INSAS rifles, .315-bore rifles and carbine from the deceased rebels. “All of them, barring one, appear to be in their 20s. One of them is aged around 35. So far, their identities have not been confirmed. We have recovered some diaries in which three names were written. But we are yet to establish the identities of the deceased,” he said.
Following the encounter, Chief Minister Raghubar Das and Directors General of the state police and CRPF, D K Pandey and K Durga Prasad, congratulated the CRPF team.
“The encounter occurred near Ramadih area of Budha Pahadi. We have found utensils and other signs of a camp having been set up on the other side of Koel river. Three diaries with the names Nageshwar Yadav, Manoj Oraon and Mahesh Singh have been recovered. We are yet to link the diaries to those who were killed. We suspect there were 20 to 25 people in the squad. Balram Oraon is a zonal commander in the area. We are trying to establish whether he is among the deceased,” said Prasad.
He said this was the CRPF’s 10th operation in Budha Pahadi area in the last six months. “This is difficult terrain and deeply forested. This is a major strike against the Maoist elements. Search operations are continuing,” he added.