At least 12 Naxalites were killed in a major anti-Maoist operation by a joint team of police along the Chattisgarh-Andhra Pradesh boundary on Thursday. A police commando belonging to the Greyhound anti-terror squad was also killed in the encounter.
A joint team of Greyhound commando force of Andhra Pradesh and Telengana and special police personnel of Chattisgarh carried out the operation near Pujarikanker in Chattisgarh, 30 km from Venkatapuram in Bhadradri Kothagudem district of Telangana
Reports said on information that the Maoists may hold a meeting somewhere along the Chattisgarh-Telangana boundary, the police swung into action and shot down 12 of them in the ensuing encounter.
A personnel of the Greyhound commando force was also killed in the firing by Naxalites, reports said, adding that the 12 rebels shot dead in Bijapur, included six women as well.
The bodies were airlifted to Bhadrachalam Government Hospital for postmortem and identification.
The encounter started at around 4 pm on Thursday when the Greyhounds of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, assisted by special police personnel from Chattisgarh and Maharashtra, began combing operations following a tip-off about a Maoist meeting.
Sources said the combing team came across 50-100 Maoists in a forest, near Pujarikanker. While the team asked them to surrender, the Maoists opened fire instead. Officials said at least 12 Maoists, including six women, were killed in the incident while Greyhounds Constable Sushil Kumar, who was severely injured, died while being airlifted to Bhadrachalam hospital in Telangana.
Police said 2 AK 47s, among other weapons, were found at the encounter spot. Those dead are yet to be identified. The bodies have been airlifted to Bhadrachalam Government Hospital for postmortem and identification. All the Maoists are suspected to be from the Telangana State Committee.
Cops suspect that those present at the meeting included Hari Bhushan, secretary and a senior member of the Telangana State Committee, and Bade Chokka Rao alias Damodar, another senior leader who is in-charge of Karimnagar-Khammam-Warangal in Telangana. Damodar had escaped from an encounter in September 2015 in Warangal.
''The police forces are still there in the forests continuing the combing operation to nab those Maoists who escaped from the spot,'' Bhadradri Kothagudem superintendent of police Ambar Kishore Jha said.
''We are yet to identify the deceased Maoists. The bodies are being brought for post-mortem,'' he added.
According to the information reaching Hyderabad, about 150 Maoists were reportedly camping in the area for the last three days.
This is one of the biggest encounters in recent times and is a big jolt to the Maoist party, said a senior police officer.
Maoist ideologue P Vara Vara Rao, however, described the encounter as fake.
''The police had caught the Maoists two days ago and killed them this morning in a cold-blooded manner,'' he alleged and demanded judicial inquiry by a sitting high court judge into the incident.