Around 25 naxals were in the camps: IGP
The Karkala unit of the Anti-Naxal Force found “10 separate camps” set up by Maoists and recovered ammunition, weapons and other material they had left behind. This followed an exchange of fire in Malavantige village in Belthangady taluk, about 75 km from here, on Saturday.
The Maoists are suspected to be from Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.
ANF constable Sadashiva Chaudhury (25) of Jamkhandi taluk in Bagalkot district sustained minor injuries in the exchange of fire. A bullet grazed the back of his head and his right ear, requiring three stitches on his head. He has been admitted to the taluk government hospital.
The exchange of fire started around 4.30 p.m. on Saturday and continued for an hour.
Though the ANF officials chased the Maoists and there was sporadic firing till night, all of them managed to escape.
Inspector-General of Police Pratap Reddy said that it appeared that 20 to 25 “naxals” were present in the camps and that they were from different States.
The officials on Sunday recovered literature in Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu. The naxals also left behind training manuals, bags, clothes, rations such as rice and sugar, audio recorder, laptop bag, radio and clothes.
Another top police officer said there appeared to be 10 separate camps.
A television crew found that they were spread over a large uneven patch of land. With the exception of one or two camps, one camp could not be sighted from the other. Each camp also contained ammunition and weapons, including 140 rounds of SLR ammunition, 30 grenades, a U.S. made auto pistol and a double-barrel rifle.
This was the first time the police had recovered so many grenades in Karnataka, Mr. Reddy said. Mr. Reddy said that the district police had information about naxal presence, based on which 10 teams comprising around 200 personnel of the ANF and district police carried out combing operations in several places from Saturday morning.
Around 4 p.m., one team stumbled upon the camp on Krishnagiri Hill in the Bolle Forest Reserve in Malavanthige village in Belthangady taluk and informed higher-ups, who sent other teams to the spot. Even as additional teams were arriving, someone from the naxal camp opened fire, after which an exchange of fire ensued.
During this time the naxals escaped.
A television journalist who was allowed to visit the camp, said it could be reached after a 10-km drive into the forest and an hour-long trek in the thick jungle.
To a question on whether Saturday's combing operations was related to the recent arrests of Linganna and Vittala of Kuthlur village, Mr. Reddy said that the matter was under investigation.
He said that the police would intensify combing operations.