Raipur, April 4 : In a major Maoist attack this year, a total of 22 security personnel were killed and 31 injured in a fierce gun battle with a platoon of over 300 People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA) in Chhattisgarh’s Bijapur district, officials said.
Central Reserve Police Force’s (CRPFs) Rakeshwar Singh Manhas from the 3.25 lakh strong paramilitary force’s elite CoBRA (Commando Battalion for Resolute Action) unit is still missing, and search operation is still on to trace him.
There are reports of heavy damage to the Maoists too. The security forces also recovered the body of a woman Maoist commander– identified as Madavi Vanoja– along with an Insas rifle, said the CRPF and the state police officials.
Besides, citing intelligence inputs, the CRPF said more than 12 Maoists were killed in the operation and over 16 faced grievous injuries in the gun battle. “All the injured Maoist cadres were learnt to be taken into two-three tractor towards Jabbamarka and Gomguda region in the area.”
The gun battle took place on Saturday noon near Tekulgudem village under Tarrem police station in which eight personnel of Chhattisgarh’s District Reserve Guard (DRG) and six of Special Task Force (STF), seven from CRPF’s CoBRA and one from its Bastaria Battalion lost their lives.
A shootout began soon after a joint team of CRPF and Chhattisgarh police’s DRG and STF men reached the spot following the tip off regarding presence of wanted Maoist Hidma — the commander of PLGA’s Battalion No. 1 — and his associates. The PLGA’s Battalion No. 1 is one of the guerrilla forces that are very rampant in Chhattisgarh.
A total of 31 security personnel also injured in the shootout, including 10 from DRG, five from STF, and 16 from CoBRA-210 Battalion. Of the 31 injured, 13 suffered critical injuries and are being treated at a hospital in Raipur while 18 faced minor injuries and getting treatment in Bijapur.
Sharing fresh inputs received from the spot, CRPF Inspector General (Operations) C.G. Arora told IANS that it was a dense forested area and core region of the Maoist where the gun battle took place.
“This is an interior place inside the jungle where access is very limited.”
Union Minister Amit Shah has cut short his poll campaign in Assam and returned to Delhi in the backdrop of the Maoist attack in Chhattisgarh — an ambush similar to the one executed by the Maoists in Tadmetla in 2010 and Minpa in 2020 in which 76 CRPF and 17 security personnel were killed respectively.
Shah earlier in the day spoke to Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel over the phone and had a detailed discussion on the gunfight with the Maoists.
During the conversation, the Chief Minister apprised the Home Minister of the ground reality of the encounter.
The Home Minister said the state and the Centre will jointly win the battle against the Maoists and assured the Chief Minister of all necessary help. He informed the Chief Minister that he had issued instructions to the Director General of CRPF to visit the site of the incident.
On March 23, five personnel of the District Reserve Guard were killed and several were injured in an IED blast — the first major Maoist attack in Chhattisgarh this year — in what the police said was a Maoist strike targeting a bus carrying more than 20 security personnel.