Security forces gun down 16 Maoists in Maharashtra

The security forces gunned down 16 alleged members of the outlawed Communist Party of India (Maoist) in Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra on Sunday. The rebels were killed in an intelligence-based operation in Kasansur area of the district bordering Chhattisgarh.

Sharad Shelar, Inspector-General of the Maharashtra police’s Anti-Naxal Operations (ANO) unit, told The Hindu that it was an intelligence-based operation, and the police team had offered a chance to the Maoists to surrender before the gunfight which lasted over an hour.

“We received some intelligence inputs regarding the movement of Maoists (in Gadchiroli). We analysed the information and launched an operation on Saturday night. A party was sent to Kasansur area around midnight. It is a very thick forest. At about 9 a.m. on Sunday, our team had an encounter with them (Maoists),” Mr. Shelar said.

The C-60, the Maharashtra police’s special anti-Maoist unit, was leading the operation with the help of a team of the Central Reserve Police Force’s 9th battalion.

“The Maoists opened indiscriminate fire on our team. Our boys appealed to them to stop firing and surrender but they continued. Ultimately, in self-defense, our team had to retaliate. Some of the Maoists fled. A search operation was carried out in the area after the encounter. We recovered the bodies of 16 Maoists as of now,” the IG added.

Mr. Shelar claimed that the dead Maoists include two Divisional Committee Members of the CPI (Maoist).

“There are reports that some senior Maoist leaders including Shrinivasan and Sainath have been killed. However, this is yet to be confirmed. Our parties and officers, who carried out the operation, are yet to reach base camp. Things will be clear once they return,” he said.

Sunday’s encounter is being considered a big blow to the Maoist movement in this tribal district of Maharashtra where the Maoists had been trying hard to regain a foothold.

The Maharashtra police termed it “the biggest successful operation against the Maoists in Danda Karanya” and a historic one.

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