Calling the operation that killed Communist Party of India (Maoist) Politburo member Koteswar Rao alias Kishenji a “significant success”, K. Vijay Kumar, Director General, Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), said the security forces had nonetheless been cautioned against the possibility of a retaliatory attack.

Having visited visited Burisole forest, the site of the operation, 15 km from Jhargram in Paschim Medinipur district, Mr. Kumar confirmed that it was indeed Kishenji who was gunned down in Thursday's operation. “I am absolutely confident [that it was Kishenji] by talking to various officials, the superintendent of police and also my own people here.”

Calling the killing a “fake encounter”, Maoists have called a two-day State-wide bandh from Saturday in protest.

Hunt still on

The massive hunt was still on for any of Kishenji's aides who might still be holed up in the forest and its vicinity, said Alok Rajoria, Additional Superintendent of Police (Operations), Jhargram. Suchitra Mahato, widow of Maoist leader Sasadhar Mahato who was killed earlier this year, and who is believed to have been with Kishenji during Thursday's operation, is still at large.

There are four to five armed Maoists still hiding in the area and combing operations, being conducted bythe CRPF along with officials of the State's Counter Insurgency Force in the nearby villages of Burisole, Sarakata and Barsole under the Jamboni police station, could continue for the next few days.

Dismissing allegations from certain quarters that the operation was a “fake encounter”, Mr. Kumar said the intelligence gathered had played a significant in the operation.

The forces have recovered about Rs. 90,000 in cash along with a computer hard disc, a few letters found from a bag and 60 rounds of empty cartridges of automatic weapons.