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Gadchiroli: 100 Naxals Rained Bullets On Commandos

 
garhchiroli

New Delhi: As many as 100 Naxals fired indiscriminately at C-60 commandos and jawans of the Special Action Team from their sophisticated weapons in the Mardintola forest in Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra disregarding the appeal to surrender on Saturday morning, a police officer said on Sunday. 

When the fierce encounter ended around 3:30 PM on Saturday after almost 10 hours, senior cadre Milind Teltumbade and 25 ultras had been killed.

Police said the ultras had gathered in large numbers in the forest to plan "subversive" activities against security personnel ahead of the Naxal week.

According to the police, the killing of Milind Teltumbde, carrying a bounty of Rs 50 lakh, has delivered a huge blow to the banned movement in the Maharashtra-Madhya Pradesh-Chhattisgarh (MMC) zone, DIG, Gadchiroli Range, Sandip Patil said.

Milind Teltumbde was one of the wanted accused in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case.

He was the brother of activist and scholar Anand Teltumbde arrested earlier in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case and is currently lodged at the Taloja prison in neighbouring Navi Mumbai.


Milind Teltumbde was the key person who in the last 20 years gave momentum to the Naxal movement and built it in Maharashtra, the DIG told PTI.

"He was the only future of that movement and there was no other leader in Maharashtra," the officer added.

"Considering his contribution to the Naxal movement and his influence among some parts of the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra and urban areas, he was a very important and key cadre and we were searching for him for a very long time," he said.

According to the senior police official of the Gadchiroli range, the MMC was a very important zone and project of Maoists.

Giving details about the encounter, Gadchiroli SP Ankit Goyal said the police had received intelligence inputs two days before the Saturday operation about the presence of a Naxal camp in the forest in the Mardintola forest in the Gyarapatti area of the Korchi tehsil.

"A team of 300 police personnel, including C-60 commandos and SAT, along with additional SP Soumya Munde launched the anti-Naxal operation. They started conducting a search operation on Thursday night in the forest. Around 6 AM on Saturday, over 100 ultras opened a heavy firing with their sophisticated weapons and ammunition on C-60 commandos and Special Action Team (SAT) personnel," he said.

Goyal said 16 bodies have been identified so far with the help of the ultras who have surrendered.

He said many of the slain Naxals carried huge rewards on their heads.

"Killing of Milind Teltumbde will affect the Naxal movement very badly not only in Maharashtra but across India," Goyal added.

An official said Milind Teltumbde, the MMC zone's secretary and the only member from Maharashtra in the Maoists' central committee, was tasked to divert the central government's attention from hilly areas to the MMC zone.

"It (Milind Teltumbde's killing) is a big setback for them in the MMC zone because he was its chief in-charge," he said.

To a query on Milind Teltumbde's deep link with the 'urban Naxal' movement, the official said he was one cadre who had strong connections in both the urban and jungle-based movements.

Milind Teltumbde along with his wife Angela Sontakke used to run an "urban network" (of the rebels) in Maharashtra, he said.

As per a chargesheet filed by the National Investigation Agency in the Elgar Parishad case, Milind Teltumbde was named as the 'dreaded Maoist', a top operative of the banned Communist Party of India-Maoist, and declared as absconding.

Speaking about the anti-Naxal operation, Goyal said the police had inputs that Naxals from the company no 4, Tipagad LOS, Korchi LOS, Vistar Platoon, CCM Milind Teltumbde's Guard and other dalams were present in large numbers in the Mardintola forest.

"As per the information, the ultras had gathered in the forest to plan various strategies against the security forces in the backdrop of the upcoming 'Naxal week' and also to carry out other subversive activities," he said.

The SP said when C-60 commandos came under fire on Saturday morning, they appealed to the Naxals to stop gunfire and surrender.

"But, disregarding this appeal, Naxals intensified the gunfire. The ensuing gun battle between the police and the ultras continued close to ten hours and ended at 3.30 pm when sensing mounting police pressure, the Naxals fled from the place of the incident taking cover under the thick forest.

"During the search, the commandos recovered 26 bodies which included 20 men and 6 women," he added.

A huge cache of arms and ammunition was recovered which includes five AK-47 rifles, one AKM-UBGL, nine SLRs, three .303 rifles, nine 2.2 single bore, one Insas rifle, one pistol and explosives.

Among the slain Naxals, Divisional Committee Member Lokesh Madkam was carrying a reward of Rs 20 lakh on his head and Mahesh Gota of Rs 16 lakh. "Commanders" Kishan Jaiman and Sannu Kowachi each carried a reward of Rs 8 lakh on their heads, the SP said.

Among the female Naxals killed in the encounter, Vimla alias Manso Boga, who was the bodyguard of Milind Teltumbde, was carrying a cash reward of Rs 4 lakh reward on her head, the official said.

—PTI