The Jharkhand police on Thursday claimed that about eight Maoists have been killed in an ongoing encounter within the Kumandi forests of Latehar district. Senior Maoist leaders,including a Central Committee member,are suspected to be present in the region.
No bodies have been recovered so far by the security forces. There are no reports of any security personnel being injured. The encounter is part of an operation that began Tuesday evening. We moved after a specific intelligence input about the presence of top Maoists in the area, said Director General of Police Rajiv Kumar,without revealing the specifics. Senior police officials confirmed that they suspect the presence of Arvindji,also called as Nishantji,a Central Committee member of the CPI(Maoist).
Latehar is the headquarters of the Eastern Regional Bureau of the Maoists,and therefore it is assumed that Birsai,who currently heads the ERB,is also present.
The operation is taking place within the Manika police station limits. The encounter with the Maoists started Tuesday night and intermittent encounters have since taken place. The CRPF,its Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA),the district police and its Jaguar team are reportedly involved in the battle with the Maoists.
The encounter comes in the wake of a series of recent successes for the Latehar police,which has weakened the ERB hierarchy. On June 19,the Patna police arrested Indrajit alias Kapil Yadav as he was being treated for a bullet injury in a private clinic. Indrajit,the operational commander of the ERB effectively the man who carried out on the ground the orders of Birsai was reportedly present when an IED was planted within the abdomen of two dead security personnel in the Katia forests on January 7-8. He was injured near the Kumandi railway station on June 12 in an encounter with a team which included Latehar SP Michael S Raj.
The January 7 incident,where 10 of their men were killed and no Maoist bodies were recovered,has spurred a series of victories for the government forces. Anup Thakur,a member of the CPI(Maoist) Military Commission,was arrested on May 28 from Bihars Muzzaffarpur. The police say Thakur too was involved in the conspiracy to plant the IED. Three bodies of Maoists were recovered on April 29 in an encounter after a CRPF-led operation went in search of Indrajit within the Barwadih police station area.