Terming the Pilmed ambush — in which the Chhattisgarh STF lost its seven personnel — among the “greatest battle” it ever fought, the police Monday claimed to have “killed at least 20 Maoists in retaliation”. The police also defended the action of the platoon commander, Shankar Rao, who had left at around 2.30 am on Saturday with a team of 49 personnel from Polampalli police station in Sukma, and said he did what was needed at that moment.
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DGP A N Upadhyaya and ADG (Naxal Ops) R K Vij Monday visited Polampalli and met the personnel who were part of the STF team. “They narrated us the entire incident. Rao had received intelligence input about the presence of 25 well-armed Maoists. Rao asked each of his men to keep 100 rounds extra. It shows the level of his preparation,” Vij said in a statement.
“They walked for hours before taking some rest at a hillock. Here, Maoists opened fire at them,” he said, adding, “Rao faced the first bullet in the chest.” “A constable, Rajesh Atre, told us that Rao collapsed, but asked others that ‘aar paar ki ladai ladni hain. Don’t withdraw’,” Vij said.
Artre, according to Vij, then assumed leadership and the small STF team retaliated. “They killed at least 20 Maoists. When they realised that reinforcement could not reach there, they began to retreat. A kilometre later, the Maoists again opened fire. We lost a few personnel,” the ADG said. Claiming the STF inflicted massive casualties on Maoists, Vij said: “It was among our greatest battles.”
The forces, however, could not recover any Maoist body. The STF team also retreated leaving the bodies of its personnel behind, which could be recovered only 30 hours later.