Eight Maoists and an STF (special task force) constable were killed in an encounter in the Narayanpur district of Chhattisgarh on Saturday, police officials said. Two other security officials were injured in the gunfight, they said.

Two injured jawans were brought to Ramakrishna Hospital in Raipur on Saturday. (ANI)

Soon after the encounter, Chhattisgarh chief minister Vishnu Deo Sai expressed his government’s commitment to eliminating Maoists from the region, and said it will not sit quiet till it achieves this goal.

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The encounter started around 7am in the forest of Abhujmad, where a joint team of security personnel from four districts — Narayanpur, Kanker, Dantewada and Kondagaon — was out on an anti-Maoist operation, inspector general of police, Bastar Range, Sundarraj P said.

“Eight Maoists were killed in the face-off. One jawan was also killed in the gunfight and two others suffered injuries,” Vivekanand Sinha, additional director general (anti-Naxal operations), said. A huge cache of arms and ammunition was recovered from the spot, Sinha added.

A search operation was launched on June 12 following information about the presence of Maoists in the forests of Kutul, Farsebeda and Kodtameta villages under Kohkameta police station area of the district, IG Sundarraj said.

Personnel of district reserve guard (DRG) from four districts, special task force (STF) and the 53rd battalion of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) were sent to the jungle, he said.

“We had information that senior Maoist leaders of the Maad division of CPI (Maoist) were camping in Abujhmaad forest, hence a joint team was sent for a search operation on June 12,” he said.

Giving details of the encounter, the IG said, “One STF constable, Nitesh Ekka, died while two others — Kailash Netam and Lekhram Netam — were injured.” The injured constables were airlifted to Raipur and their condition is out of danger, he said.

“When the firing stopped, bodies of eight Maoists were recovered from the jungle. Police have also recovered one Insas rifle, one .303rifle, grenade launcher and other arms and ammunition from the spot,” said the IG.

The process of identification of the Maoists has started, he added. “We are hoping that more Maoists have been killed in the encounter and search operation will continue,” Sunderraj said.

In a post on X, the chief minister said, “The Naxalites are frustrated by the strict action taken against them. Our government is fully committed to eliminating them, and we will not sit quietly until the target is achieved.”

Since December, 2023, there has been a clear uptick in aggression from security forces, which have created 17 new forward camps in what were thus far thought to be core Maoist-controlled areas.

This includes areas inside Abhujmaad, a 4,000-square-kilometre expanse of forests that straddles Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra. Abhujhmaad is an amalgamation of the Gondi words “Abujh” and “Maad” that translates to the “hills of the unknown” — an area that is yet unmapped by the government of India.

Several attempts at conducting preliminary surveys in the region have taken place since 2017, but each has been stymied by the extremely difficult geography, complete lack of infrastructure, and heavy Maoist fortification. It is because of this administrative vacuum, that most security officers in Bastar refer to the area as the “last bastion of the Maoists”, where the seniormost cadre, including the politburo and the central committee, of the CPI(Maoist) take refuge through the year.

With Saturday’s incident, 131 Maoists have been killed so far this year in separate encounters with security forces in Chhattisgarh, much higher than 2023 when 22 ultras were killed.

On June 7, seven Maoists were killed in Narayanpur in an encounter with security forces while on May 23, seven Maoists were killed in an encounter in a forest on Narayanpur-Bijapur inter-district border.

On May 10, 12 Maoists were killed in an encounter with security forces in Bijapur district.

Ten Maoists, including three women, were killed in an encounter with security personnel in a forest along the border of Narayanpur and Kanker districts on April 30.

Before that, 29 Maoists were gunned down in an encounter with security forces in the state’s Kanker district on April 16, according to police.


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