Police sources say, Maoists first stopped one of the buses and dragged out one man who has been identified as Munna Sodi, and shot him. Later they asked other passengers to get down and set fire to the bus. Maoists then burnt down six other vehicles and two more buses and two trucks. All the buses were heading towards Telangana from core Maoist areas of Dantewada, Jagdalpur and Malkangiri and Sukma.
Mr Sodi's killing was most likely an act of personal revenge, say senior officers. He was a former constable who was sacked from the police force after being allegedly linked to a murder case. He was travelling in one of the busses from Sukma to his village in Manikonta in Telangana. Sources say, pamphlets found from the area refer to a retaliatory killing of ten Maoists in Gadchiroli on March 2.
"The victim was convicted for his wife's murder in 2012 and was released in 2017. There are also reports that his wife's brother was in Maoist. The buses were stopped by the Maoists only to search for him", the Superintendent of Police of Sukma, Abhishek Meena, told news agency ANI.
Last week, in an operation by Telangana and Chhattisgarh state police, at least 10 Maoists, including six women, were killed in Chhattisgarh's Bijapur district.
Police had found several automatic rifles including, AK-47, SLR and INSAS rifles. Wireless sets, three laptops, detonators, Rs 41,000 in cash were also found from the encounter site.