According to reports, this is being called one of the biggest encounters of the Naxalites in the last 38 years since this problem came into existence.
“This is one of the best operations in the last 38 years since the Naxal problem began,” IG Naxal OPs (Maharashtra) told News18 https://t.co/kBkZH8K5V4
— News18 (@CNNnews18) April 23, 2018
Security forces gunned down at least 16 Naxalites in the Rela-Kasnasur forest in Maharashtra’s Gadchiroli district on Sunday morning. While officially 16 have been neutralised, the toll could go up to 25, according to reports. Gadchiroli Police, in a press release, said the dead included some high-ranking ultras.
The encounter broke out at Rela-Kasansur forest in Bhamragad between the ultras and a joint team of security forces comprising C60 commandos, a specialised combat unit of the Gadchiroli police, and personnel of the 9th Battalion of the CRPF, around 10 am. It lasted for 90 minutes, DIG (Gadchiroli) Ankush Shinde said.
“The ultras hiding in the forest started firing at the security personnel. The exchange of fire continued for about one-and-half hours. As per preliminary information, bodies of 16 Naxals were recovered from the forest,” he said, adding that arms and Naxal literature were recovered from the spot. He also said that action was based on a specific intelligence input. The operation was launched from Pranhita headquarters at Aheri.
On the identity of the ultras, he said, “There is a possibility of two ‘DVC’ — rank Naxals Shrinu alias Shrikant and Sainath being killed in the operation.”
Naxalite cadres of four groups – Perimili dalam, Aheri dalam, Company 10 and Platoon 14 – had gathered for a meeting when the forces took them on. The cadres had been moving around in the locality in different formations and holding meetings at tribal hamlets. They were caught off guard by firing from all sides as they were not expecting an attack, the location of the meeting being deep in the forest.
Two C-60 squads under commander Vasudev Madavi and Madhukar Netam, supported by CRPF, are learnt to have surrounded the Naxalites, taking vantage positions that did not allow the Naxalites to escape. As they realised their strength, forces called for more reinforcements using sat phones, according to reports.
After firing from Naxals’ side ceased, the forces went in and began pulling out bodies, weapons and other material.
Maharashtra Director General of Police Satish Mathur congratulated the C-60 team which was involved in the encounter. “This is the biggest success ever in the Dandakaranya area by any anti-Naxal force. There are no major injuries on our side,” he said.