At least 15 more bodies of Maoists, killed over two days in encounters with C-60 commandos of the Maharashtra Police, were recovered in Gadchiroli Tuesday taking the toll of Maoists killed up to 37, including three divisional committee members (DVC). Police said 31 Maoists were killed in a firefight Sunday after they were ambushed in the Kasnasur region, and six more ultra-left rebels were gunned down in another encounter in the Kapewancha area on Monday night.
Sources said a manhunt has been launched in Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh to locate cadre members, who police suspect were injured in the encounter on Sunday but managed to flee. The police are also checking with local doctors, hospitals and alleged sympathisers in areas close to the border between the states. “We had information that members of two to three dalams were gathering at Kasnaur village. In a dalam there are generally 20- 22 members. Our estimates show that around 40 Maoists were present at the spot. While we have been able to kill 31, a few have managed to flee. Operations are now on to locate them,” said a senior police officer. “Search operations have been launched in villages adjoining the borders of the encounter sites and close to the Indravati river to locate these people.”
According to sources in the Maharastra police, the two C-60 commando teams involved in Sunday’s operation were in the area since Friday night but were chasing “another lead”. It was only by Saturday afternoon that an informant gave “pinpointed information” on members of two to three dalams planning to camp in the Kasnasur jungles that the commando teams were diverted.
“The nearest post to Kasnasur was already engaged in chasing a lead, however after we got this precise information from a trustworthy informant, the teams were diverted,” said an official privy to the operational details. Sources said that though rewards against Maoists killed in the operation were announced by three states, the informant will be entitled to get the reward money from each state. The total from three states combined totals around Rs 1-1.5 crore.
While police have recovered arms and ammunition from the spot, searches were stopped on Sunday due to heavy rain and the paucity of manpower and resumed only on Monday evening. “Till now 15 more dead bodies ( 7 male, 8 female) of Maoists have been recovered from the water. Search for more bodies and material is going on,” said Additional Director General of Police, Law and Order, Bipin Bihari. “In another intelligence-based operation in Kapewancha area, exchange of fire resulted in the death of six Naxals ( two men, four women) including DVC Nandu,” he said.