Addressing a press conference after security forces gunned down 26 Maoists on Saturday, Gadchiroli SP Ankit Goyal said the police had received intelligence inputs about two days before the Saturday operation about the presence of a Maoist camp in the forest.
The forest lies in the Gyarapatti area of the Korchi tehsil.
Goyal said that early morning during the search operation, over 100 Maoists opened heavy firing at the commandos.
“A team of 300 police personnel, including C-60 commandos and SAT, along with additional SP Soumya Munde were conducting a search operation on Thursday night in the Mardintola forest. Around 6am on Saturday, over 100 ultras opened a heavy firing with their sophisticated weapons and ammunition on C-60 commandos and Special Action Team (SAT) personnel,” he said.
When the fierce encounter finally ended around 3:30pm after almost 10 hours, senior cadre Milind Teltumbade and 25 ultras had been killed.
Teltumbde was considered a pioneer of the concept of “urban Maoism”.
Four security personnel were also injured in the encounter.
Goyal said many of the slain Maoists carried huge rewards on their heads, including Teltumbde who carried a bounty of Rs 50 lakh.
“Killing of Milind Teltumbde will affect the Naxal movement very badly not only in Maharashtra but across India,” Goyal added.
Teltumbde was a wanted accused in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case, a senior police official said earlier in the day.
Sources told TOI that 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.
(With inputs from PTI)