- The operation was planned by C-60 commandos of Gadchiroli police
- They got specific input that breakfast had been arranged for 50-60 people
- 2 more bodies recovered from Indravati river today; 39 Maoists killed
The anti-Maoist operation, Maharashtra's most successful, was planned by C-60 commandos of the Gadchiroli police based on specific intelligence about a meeting of top dalams or Maoist squads at a place where Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh and Telangana share a forested border.
The police had information that Maoists belonging to three squads --- Perimili, Aheri and Sironcha --- were scheduled to meet but the police were not aware of the exact location. Patrol parties were sent to gather intelligence but there wasn't enough to launch a full-fledged operation. Then came a specific input --- breakfast had been arranged for 50-60 people at a particular place.
With the venue being secluded from nearby villages surrounded by the waters of the Indravati river, a decision was taken to engage immediately and commandos arrived.
The operation began a little after 10 in the morning and continued till 1.30 pm in the dense Kasansur forest. After a four-hour gun battle, the police accounted for 16 Maoists killed but they believed they had shot an unknown number as the insurgents tried to escape across the river into Chhattisgarh. Fifteen more bodies were recovered from the Indravati river on Tuesday.
The police used an under barrel grenade launcher. These are single shot launchers used with assault rifles for destroying targets in an open area, in trenches and reverse slopes. When they hit the target, Maoists fired in desperation.
"For self-protection, police had to resort to firing. The firing continued for some time after which there was silence and the police party started a search operation. We found 16 bodies of Maoists, of which nine were males and the rest females," Sharad Shelar, Inspector General (Anti-Naxal Operations) told reporters.
"The operation was meticulously planned and executed and that is why it was successful," said D Kanakaratnam, Additional Director General of Police.
On Monday, in another encounter 60 kilometres from Sunday's ambush site, six Maoists were killed.
A high-ranking commander of the Aheri squad, identified as Nandu, was among those killed. One of the two 17-year-old girls killed was a top leader of the group.
According to the police, Sainath alias Dolesh Madhi Atram, 32, carried a cash reward of Rs 16 lakh on him. Rajesh alias Dama Naruti from Murgaon in Gadchiroli had a cash reward of Rs 4 lakh on his head. Nagesh alias Dulsa Narote, 32, belonged to Jharewada in Gadchiroli district. He was also a member of the Perimili squad. Police officials claim that the Aheri and Sironcha squads have been totally wiped out in this operation.
Search operations are still on as the police believe that Maoists who were injured in the encounter may have slipped into Chhattisgarh. All hideouts in the forested area have been put on surveillance.