Six Naxalites, including “deputy commander” Punem Nagesh, his wife, and another female cadre, were killed in an encounter with security personnel in Chhattisgarh’s Bijapur district on Wednesday, a police officer said.

Many other Naxalites were believed to have been injured in the gunfight and a search operation was underway in the area, he said, adding that no security personnel was injured.

The six slain Naxalites collectively carried a bounty of Rs 14 lakh on them, the officer said.

The slain deputy commander of Maoists’ PLGA platoon no. 10 Punem Nagesh was instrumental in carrying out several deadly attacks on security forces in the past.

“The gunfight took place at around 8 am in jungles along the Talperu river near Chipurbhatti village under Basaguda police station area, when a joint team of security personnel was conducting an anti-Naxal operation,” Inspector General of Police (Bastar Range) Sundarraj P told PTI.

The operation was launched based on inputs about the presence of cadres belonging to Maoists PLGA platoons no. 9 and 10, who were involved in the murder of three civilians near Basaguda during the Holi festival celebrated on Monday, he said.

The personnel belonging to the District Reserve Guard (DRG), Central Reserve Police Force’s 229th and 168th battalions and 205th and 210th battalion of CoBRA (Commando Battalion for Resolute Action- an elite unit of CRPF) were involved in the operation, the police officer said.

The patrolling team came under fire near the Talperu river, he said, adding that the exchange of fire continued for about an hour after which bodies of six Naxalites were recovered from the spot.

Security personnel found arms and ammunition from the spot of the encounter.

“A carbine gun, factory-made 9 mm pistol, country-made 9 mm pistol, 12 bore gun, muzzle-loading gun, 10 live cartridges of SLR, two tiffin bombs, gelatin sticks, safety fuses, Maoist bags, medicines and other items of daily use were also seized from the spot,” the IGP said.

Sundarraj further said security personnel have gunned down 37 Naxalites so far in separate encounters in the Bastar region, comprising seven districts, since December 2023.

The killed Naxalites were identified as Punem Nagesh, his wife Vetti Soni (30), Aaytu Punem (28), Sukka Oyam (40), Nuppo Moka (30), and Kovasi Gangi (27), said Bijapur Superintendent of Police Jitendra Kumar Yadav.

Nagesh was active as the Deputy Commander of Maoists’ PLGA platoon no. 10. His wife was also a member of the same formation. The couple carried rewards of Rs 5 lakh and Rs 2 lakh on their heads, respectively, he said.

Gangi was an area committee member of Maoists and carried a reward of Rs 5 lakh on her head, the SP added.

Aaytu Punem was an active member of PLGA platoon no. 10, who was carrying a reward of Rs 2 lakh on his head. Oyam was a small action team commander while Moka worked as a militia section commander, he said.

“The slain Naxalites were involved in several incidents including the deadly Tekalgudiyam attack (in Bijapur) on April 3, 2021, wherein 22 troopers were killed and more than 35 others injured. They were also involved in the murder of three villagers near Basaguda on Monday,” he added.

Many other Naxalites were reported to be injured in the gunfight and the search operation was still underway in the area, according to Yadav.

Naxalites generally observe the Tactical Counter Offensive Campaign (TCOC) between March and June in summer and step up their activities. A large number of attacks on security forces have taken place in the Bastar region during this period.

However, Wednesday’s encounter seems to have dealt a massive blow to Naxalites who lost key cadres.

Bastar Lok Sabha constituency will go to polls in the first phase of three-phase general elections in Chhattisgarh on April 19.

Published On:

Mar 27, 2024

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