At least 22 security personnel have been killed in the line of duty after an encounter on Saturday with Maoists in Chhattisgarh's Bijapur district, about 400 km from state capital Raipur. A member of the security group is still missing.
On Sunday morning, Director General (Naxal Operations) of Chhattisgarh Police Ashok Juneja said the number of deaths have increased to eight; yesterday five security personnel had died in action.
On Saturday, separate joint teams of security forces, with over 2,000 personnel, launched a major operation from Bijapur and Sukma districts in the South Bastar forests, considered a Maoist stronghold. At around 12 noon, the Maoists laid an ambush, leading to an encounter that lasted for three hours.
On Sunday, Home Minister Amit Shah spoke to Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel and took stock of the situation. He also directed Director General of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) Kuldiep Singh to visit Chhattisgarh to asses the situation.
"The centre and state will fight together and win too," Home Minister Amit Shah told the Chief Minister, as per an official statement. He has assured all necessary help from the centre.
"I bow to the sacrifices of our brave security personnel martyred while fighting Maoists in Chhattisgarh. Nation will never forget their valour. My condolences are with their families. We will continue our fight against these enemies of peace & progress. May injured recover soon," Mr Shah had tweeted earlier.
I bow to the sacrifices of our brave security personnel martyred while fighting Maoists in Chhattisgarh. Nation will never forget their valour. My condolences are with their families. We will continue our fight against these enemies of peace & progress. May injured recover soon.— Amit Shah (@AmitShah) April 4, 2021
President Ram Nath Kovind expressed anguish over the killing of soldiers in Chhattisgarh's Bijapur Naxal attack saying the nation will never forget their sacrifice.
The killing of the security personnel while battling Maoist insurgency in Chhattisgarh is a matter of deep anguish. My condolences to the bereaved families. The nation shares their pain and will never forget this sacrifice.— President of India (@rashtrapatibhvn) April 4, 2021
Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted last evening: "My thoughts are with the families of those martyred while fighting Maoists in Chhattisgarh. The sacrifices of the brave martyrs will never be forgotten. May the injured recover at the earliest."
My thoughts are with the families of those martyred while fighting Maoists in Chhattisgarh. The sacrifices of the brave martyrs will never be forgotten. May the injured recover at the earliest.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) April 3, 2021
For the last 10 days, security forces in the state were getting information about the whereabouts of Madvi Hidma, top member of banned CPI (Maoist), who has been linked to major attacks including the 2013 Jhiram Ghati killings.
Over 30 people, including senior leaders of the Chhattisgarh Congress, were killed in the Jhiram Ghati Naxal attack in 2013.
Saturday's encounter comes days after five police personnel were killed and 14 injured after Maoists targeted a bus carrying 27 DRG (District Reserve Guard) troops in Chhattisgarh's Naryanpur district. The bus, which had been travelling from Kadenar to Kanhargaon, was hit by an IED (improvised explosive device).
On Thursday, three Maoists involved in planting explosives to target the security forces were arrested from Chhattisgarh's Sukma district.