TWO CHHATTISGARH Police personnel have been killed and seven other personnel injured in two separate encounters with Naxalites in insurgency-hit Sukma district, police said. Senior police officials said a body of a Maoist, with an SLR, has also been recovered. Intermittent fire continued till late Saturday evening.
A composite squad of the STF, District Reserve Group (DRG), Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and its elite unit-CoBRA (Commando Battalion for Resolute Action) began the operation based on inputs about the location of Maoist hideouts in the interiors of Chintagufa, around 500 km from here, on Friday.
DM Awasthi, Special DG Anti-Naxal Operations, said, “We launched a massive operation called Operation Prahar on Friday from different points on the Dornapal Jagargunda axis, comprising 1,500 troops. This included Chhattisgarh Police, DRG, STF as well as the CRPF and CoBRA. The idea was to hit the Maoists in areas that the forces have not gone before, deep in what they consider their core areas.”
The first exchange of fire with the Maoists took place on Saturday, near Tondamarka, at around 10 am. “It was a massive crossfire, which lasted for over an hour-and-a-half, with the Maoist military battalion headed by commander Hidma. In this encounter, four STF jawans were injured,” an official said.
Awasthi told The Sunday Express that while no bodies were recovered from this encounter spot, the police were convinced that Maoists had been killed or grievously injured. “Two of our men were hit when they were attempting to recover bodies of Maoists that had fallen,” he said. The four injured STF men were then evacuated by the Indian Air Force choppers and brought to Raipur.
The second encounter took place in Elmagundem area of Sukma, at around 4.15 pm, as they returned to their camp at Burkapal. In the encounter, two DRG men were killed and three others injured. “We have recovered the body of one Maoist with an SLR. While identification has not taken place yet, this means he was probably a senior commander,” Awasthi said.
“The forces were carrying three bodies — of two colleagues and one Maoist — and three grievously injured colleagues. Movement, therefore, was alow. In the dark, the rescue operation gets tougher,” a senior CRPF official said. Police said they were still moving towards Burkapal, a little over 10 km away, on foot.
In an operation in Pidia region of neighbouring Bijapur district, police said they had recovered one Maoist body and a weapon in an encounter that saw no personnel injuries or casualties. “A Maoist arms camp was also destroyed,” a senior officer said.