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3 CRPF Personnel Killed in Anti-Naxal Operation in Bastar

3 CRPF Personnel Killed in Anti-Naxal Operation in Bastar

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Manas Dasgupta

NEW DELHI, Jan 30: Three personnel of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), including two from the specialised Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA), were killed in an encounter with Maoists on the border of Sukma and Bijapur districts in Chhattisgarh’s Bastar region, a senior police officer said.

Tekulagudem village, where Tuesday’s encounter took place, was also the site of another encounter in 2021 that left 23 soldiers dead.

The incident took place hours after a new security camp was established in the village, which is 616 kilometres from state capital city of Raipur. On Republic Day, the Indian Tricolour was hoisted for the first time in the Sukma-Bijapur area.

The Bastar police in a statement said the incident took place near Tekulagudem village when a joint team of security personnel was out on a search operation.

After setting up the new camp, a joint team of the CoBRA, the Special Task Force (STF) and the District Reserve Guard (DRG) was conducting anti-Naxal operations in Jonaguda-Aliguda area when Maoists opened fire at the personnel, taking advantage of the forest cover.

The security personnel fired back, following which Maoists ran away and took cover in the forest. The injured personnel have been airlifted to Raipur for treatment. The three deceased were identified as constables Deven C and Pawan Kumar from the CoBRA 201 and constable Lambdhar Sinha from CRPF battalion 150. The CoBRA is a specialised force under the CRPF to combat extremists and insurgents in guerrilla/jungle warfare operations.

“On Monday, a new camp of security personnel was set up in Tekulagudem, a Maoist stronghold. After setting up the camp, the personnel belonging to Special Task Force, District Reserve Guard and Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA- a jungle warfare unit of CRPF) was carrying out search in nearby Jonaguda-Aliguda villages when Maoists opened fire and encounter started,” said Inspector General of Police, Sunderaj P. The injured jawans were being evacuated out of the forest, he added. “We are waiting for more details of the encounter,” the IG said.

This is the first major Naxal attack under the new BJP government in the state. Anti-Maoist operations in Chhattisgarh have increased since November 2023, and it were the highest in November and December last year, according to state police data.

Earlier this month, Union Home Minister Amit Shah chaired a review meeting with stakeholders in Raipur on Left Wing Extremism (LWE), where he said the Maoist menace should end in the next three years. January has also seen five alleged Naxals, including two women, being killed in encounters in the state. A six-month-old girl had also died in cross-firing during an anti-Naxal operation.

Since November last year, nine new police camps have come up in Sukma and Bijapur districts. Police data showed that there were only four anti-Maoist operations in July and August, which dropped to two in September and October. However, the number increased to 12 in November, and nine operations were conducted in December 2023.

According to the officials, the highest number of Maoists arrested in a month in 2023 was in December when 59 ultras were arrested by the security forces and prior to this, it was in July when 15 rebels were arrested. In all, 173 Maoists were arrested between July and December 2023, while 12 were killed in gunfights with the security forces.

 

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