Major encounter in Chhattisgarh: 22 jawans killed, 31 injured in deadly encounter with Naxals on Sukma-Bijapur border
At least 22 jawans were killed and 31 sustained injuries in the deadly encounter between security forces and Naxals in Tarrem, along the Sukma-Bijapur border in Chhattisgarh.
Maoists used machine guns, rocket launchers to target forces. Injured jawans have been referred to a hospital in Raipur for treatment. Naxals ambushed security forces during an anti-insurgency operation: Officials
As many as 22 jawans were killed and 31 sustained injuries in the encounter with Naxals in Chhattisgarh on Saturday. Security forces have launched an operation along the Sukma-Bijapur border, where an intense face-off resulted in the deaths of 22 jawans. One soldier is still believed to be missing.
Sources tell India Today TV that Director-General, CRPF, Kuldiep Singh reached Chhattisgarh this morning to take stock of the situation. CRPF ADG (HQ) Zulfiqar Hassan and IG (Operations) Nalin Prabhat are also on the ground in Chhattisgarh.
Naxals seem to have decamped with the weapons, bullet-proof jackets, and even the shoes of dead soldiers, officials said.
On Sunday morning, tribute was paid to the CRPF jawans killed in the line of action at the force’s camp in Jagdalpur.
Chhattisgarh Director General of Police (DGP) DM Awasthi and CRPF DG Kuldiep Singh confirmed that the dead bodies of 22 jawans have been recovered.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah condoled the deaths of security personnel in Chhattisgarh. “We will continue our fight against these enemies of peace & progress,” Shah said referring to the Maoists who ambushed jawans in Tarrem.
Amit Shah also spoke to Chattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel in this regard on Sunday.
Speaking to the media in Guwahati, Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel said, “Seven injured security personnel who were shifted to Raipur are out of danger. 21 personnel are missing and rescue teams are searching for them.”
CM Bhupesh Baghel is slated to return to Chhattisgarh on Sunday evening.
A total of 31 injured jawans were brought to a hospital in Bijapur. At least seven were later referred to a hospital in Raipur for treatment.
Earlier on Saturday, PM Narendra Modi had wished the injured jawans a speedy recovery. “My thoughts are with the families of those martyred while fighting Maoists in Chhattisgarh,” the Prime Minister had said in a tweet.
Among the jawans killed in action, several were from the CoBRA (Commando Battalions for Resolute Action) unit while the others were part of the Bastariya Battalion of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and the District Reserve Guard (DRG).
Inspector-General of Police (Bastar) P Sunderraj said at least nine Naxals were killed in the encounter with security forces that lasted for nearly three-five hours. Among those killed was a woman Maoist.
However, security forces estimate that over 15 Maoists were killed in the encounter.
An encounter broke out between security forces and Naxals along the Sukma-Bijapur border in Chhattisgarh on Saturday after a party of jawans was ambushed by Maoists near Jonnaguda village around noon. The forces were scattered and trapped along a two-km long stretch of forest area.
Officials confirmed that the encounter spot was barely 15 km from the Tarrem base camp of security forces.
Sources said Naxals used light-weight machine guns (LMGs) and even rocket launchers during the encounter.
The ambush was similar to the one carried out by Naxals in Tadmetla in 2010 and Minapa in 2020.
On Saturday, the Maoist PLGA Battalion was led by its commander Hidma. With a total strength of nearly 250, this group of Naxals was aided by insurgents associated with the Maoist platoons of Pamed, Konta, Jagargunda and Basaguda area committees.
A group of 60-80 armed Maoists led by Chandranna was also spotted in Bijapur shortly before the attack.
Security forces were on alert after Naxal commander Hidma was spotted in Bijapur in March of this year. Hidma carries a reward of Rs 25 lakh on his head.
In fact, Hidma is also suspected to be behind the March 2017 attack in Sukma where 25 CRPF jawans were killed in action during an encounter with Maoists.
Sources told India Today that intellegence agencies had alerted authorities about the presence of Maoists along the Bijapur-Sukma border.
Details available with Aaj Tak/India Today confirm that nearly 200-300 Naxals were camping in Bijapur, Sukma and Kanker for the past several days.
This report said that Naxals were planning to carry out IED attacks in Bijapur. Maoists were also looking to target camps of security forces in the jungles of Chhattisgarh, the intellegence report went on to say.
More than 400 personnel of the CRPF, CoBRA unit, DRG and the Special Task Force (STF) launched an anti-Naxal operation on April 2 on the basis of this report when they were ambushed by Naxals on Saturday.
Heavy gunfire was exchanged during the encounter that lasted for three-five hours at Tekulgudam under the limits of Tarrem police station.
Officials said that the Maoists also suffered huge losses and were seen taking the bodies of their dead using two tractors.
“It was a conscious decision. We have been at the stronghold and hideout of Maoists. We went well-prepared inside. It was a fierce battle which was bravely fought by forces,” said a top officer who was part of the team supervising the anti-insurgency operation.
Just last month, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) had arrested three Naxals for planting IEDs to target security forces. Two IEDs were recovered during the operation at Bakarkatta in Chhattisgarh’s Sukma district. Among the Maoists arrested was a deputy commander of a militia platoon.