29 Maoists shot dead in Chhattisgarh’s Kanker

Three senior cadres of CPI (Maoist) are believed to be among the dead; three jawans injured; the operation by BSF, district forces was based on a tip-off that senior Maoists were at the spot

April 16, 2024 05:46 pm | Updated April 19, 2024 09:49 pm IST - Raipur

Security personnel at a post in Chhattisgarh’s Kanker after the attack. Photo: Special Arrangement

Security personnel at a post in Chhattisgarh’s Kanker after the attack. Photo: Special Arrangement

At least 29 Maoists were killed in an operation by security forces along the Kanker-Narayanpur border in Chhattisgarh’s Bastar on April 16. Three senior cadres of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist) are suspected to be among the deceased. Three jawans also sustained injuries in the gun battle, but are out of danger, police said.

Based on the number of casualties inflicted, the State police have said this is possibly the “biggest encounter ever” in Chhattisgarh. Nationally, a 2018 operation in Maharashtra’s Gadchiroli, in which 37 Maoists were killed, was the only one where more deaths were reported in recent years.  

Tip-off about senior Maoists

The operation by a joint team of the Kanker District Reserve Guard (DRG) and the Border Security Force (BSF) against the Maoists took place in a forested area which falls under the Chhottebetiya police station area of Kanker, the police said. The security forces were sent to the spot after a tip-off was received about the presence of senior Divisional Committee (DVC) members of the CPI (Maoist).

“During the searching operation, there was an encounter between the forces and the Maoist cadres. During the searches so far, 29 dead bodies of Maoist cadres have been recovered. [A stash of] AK-47, INSAS, SLR, Carbine 303 and a huge cache of other arms and ammunitions were also recovered from the spot,” Inspector General of Police (Bastar Range) P. Sundarraj said, later in the evening, adding that searches were still ongoing.

Maoists’ permanent camp

A BSF statement issued earlier said that the anti-Maoist operation was launched late in the evening of April 15 by the DRG and BSF, based on various inputs of Maoists’ movement in Binagunda and adjoining areas. “We shared five inputs, including two inputs giving exact location (one input with GR also) of the North Bastar DVC Maoists in the Binagunda area, underlining the fact that it has acted as a permanent camp of the Maoists since April,” the statement added.  

According to the BSF, Shankar and Lalita — both DVC members of the North Bastar division of the CPI (Maoist) — are believed to be amongst the Maoists killed in the exchange of fire. Together, they carry a reward of around ₹50 lakh on their heads. 

Mr. Sundarraj said that the operation had been launched after receiving information about the presence of North Bastar and Abujhmad Committee division committee members such as Shankar, Lalita, Raju and others, but noted that the police would be able to confirm names and profiles only after the identification of the bodies. In an 8:30 p.m. statement, he said it would take another two to three hours to move all bodies to the nearest base camp. 

Anti-Maoist campaign

Ever since the State’s new BJP government was sworn in, the anti-Maoist campaign in Chhattisgarh has intensified. Since the beginning of this year, 79 Maoists have been killed by the security forces. This is the highest tally since 2019, when 80 Maoists were killed in the whole year, according to data shared by the police. 

“Naxalism is the biggest enemy of development, peace and bright future of youth. Under the leadership of Prime Minister Shri @narendramodi ji, we are determined to free the country from the scourge of Naxalism. Due to the offensive policy of the government and the efforts of the security forces, Naxalism has been confined to a small area today. Soon Chhattisgarh and the entire country will be completely Naxal-free,” Union Home Minister Amit Shah said in a post on X. “I congratulate all the security personnel who made this operation successful with their bravery and wish for the speedy recovery of the brave policemen who have been injured,” he added.

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