NAGPUR: At least 26 Maoists were gunned down by Gadchiroli police C60 commandos on Saturday after a 10-hour gun-battle near Mardintola village, in the Gyarapatti-Kotgul forest region of Dhanora taluka along the Maharashtra-Chhattisgarh border. Four commandos suffered gunshot wounds.
Sources said that Milind Teltumbde, a central committee (CC) member of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist) in charge of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh zones, had also been killed in the gunfight. Teltumbde was considered a pioneer of the concept of “urban Maoism”.
Sources also claimed that divisional committee members (DVC) Shuklal Parcheki and Prabhakar of the Maoists’ Company No. 4 formation were among the ones slain.
Between April 22 and 24, 2018, commandos had gunned down 37 Naxalites, including 19 women. Saturday’s encounter is the second-biggest in terms of slain Naxals. “The number could be higher and among those killed could be some women too,” Gadchiroli SP Ankit Goyal said.
The CC is the apex body of the rebel movement in which Teltumbde occupied a top post as far as the Maoist movement in central India is concerned. Observers say Saturday’s encounter was a big blow to the three-decade-old Naxalite movement.
Sources said Teltumbde was being escorted to the Maharashtra border by the Chhattisgarh-based Vistar “dalam” and was received by Korchi dalam members and Company No. 4. “There were at least 40-45 Naxalites camping at the site,” they added. Around 16 C60 teams cordoned off the camp. The commandos formed layers and attacked. Maoist sentries opened fire and the C60 retaliated. Outnumbered, the Maoists tried to flee into Chhattisgarh but were trapped as their escape routes had been plugged by the commandos.
The injured jawans were first brought to Dhanora and then airlifted to Nagpur where they are being treated at a private hospital. “All four are stable but two jawans have critical injuries,” said Dr Anup Marar of Orange City Hospital and Research Institute.
Goyal said the bodies need to be identified “following standard operating procedures”. “We have heard that Teltumbde is dead but the information is yet to be confirmed as the jawans are yet to return,” he said. Once the bodies are brought to the district headquarters, surrendered Naxalites will be called in to identify the corpses.
It is learnt that the encounter started at 6.30am and went on till 4.30pm. When it ended, the commandos launched search operations in the forest as the Maoists are known to take away their dead and injured to nearby villages. Sources said this could not continue for long as darkness had set in.
Early reports said a large quantity of arms and ammunition was seized after the encounter, considered one of the longest in the history of the state’s fight against Maoist insurgency. Maharashtra home minister Dilip Walse Patil congratulated the Gadchiroli police in a tweet.
Naxal range DIG Sandip Patil, who is also in charge of state anti-Naxal operations, couldn’t go to Gadchiroli as the state government had rushed him to Amravati city to tackle the law and order situation that arose there on Saturday.




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