At least 10 Maoists were killed and several others injured in an encounter with security forces in Sukma district of Chhattisgarh on Tuesday, according to police. So far, nine bodies have been recovered and flown to Bhadrachalam in Andhra Pradesh. The area is about 600 km south of State capital Raipur, closer to Khammam district of Andhra Pradesh.
According to information from various security sources, a group of Maoists assembled in the forest area near Puvarti village. Acting on a series of tip-offs, an operation led by the Andhra police’s special force, Greyhounds, was launched in the early hours.
The sources suggest there was heavy gunbattle, but television footage, though grainy, showed a large team of armed forces firing at some people from an elevation. It was not clear whether the people below were in battle fatigues or carrying arms.
As of Tuesday evening, seven fighters of the People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA) were identified as members of the North Telangana Special Zonal Committee (NTSZC). According to the sources, one of them was Marri Ravi alias Sudhakar alias Kanakala Raji Reddy, secretary, Karimnagar-Khammam-Warangal Committee.
The Andhra Pradesh police had declared a cash reward on Marri Ravi, who was one of the tribals of Chhattisgarh to make it to the higher levels of the Maoist party.
His wife and district committee member Pushpakka was also killed. Three members of area committees slain were Sabitha alias Vetti Narsakka, Arelli Venkant alias Kiran and Ajay. “We expect majority of them to be from NTSZC,” a senior security official told The Hindu in Chhattisgarh.
Though Tuesday’s operation took place about 40 km inside Chhattisgarh, the intelligence input came from the A.P. Police. On inputs, a large contingent of Greyhounds personnel started moving on foot from Khammam on Monday night and crossed the Chhattisgarh border around midnight and encircled Puvarti. According to police reports, the exchange of fire started around 7 a.m. and continued for a couple of hours. Meanwhile, unmanned aerial vehicles captured and sent visuals of 50 Maoist cadres who started retreating. Finally, they escaped.
According to the sources, an April 13 operation by a CoBRA unit, which attacked a camp at Chinna Gelur village under the Basaguda police station during a meeting attended by Jagadeesh, one of the top military commanders, forced the Maoists to move 10 km south towards Puvarti.
Tuesday’s operation has been the most successful one, from the security point of view, in Chhattisgarh in the past one year. However, officials said a majority of the cadres killed belong to North Telangana and not Chhattisgarh. A few years ago, after having been severely hit in North Telangana, Maoists started taking shelter in south Chhattisgarh.