At least 12 Maoist guerrillas were killed in a gunfight with police in Telangana's Jayashankar Bhupalapally district on Friday. A police constable lost his life during the exchange of fire, police said. Further, three personnel of the elite Greyhounds anti-Maoist force were injured.
According to agency reports, arms and ammunition, including one AK-47 assault rifle, one SLR, and five INSAS rifles, were recovered in the Bijapur anti-Naxal operation.
The exchange of fire occurred in the forests near Venkatapuram village on the Telangana-Chhattisgarh border in the early hours of Friday. The Maoists were neutralised in a joint operation by the police of the two states in Tadapalagutta-Pujarikamkedu region on the inter-state border.
1) Top Maoist leaders killed: Some top leaders of the Communist Party of India (Maoist), including the banned outfit's Telangana Secretary Haribhushan, alias Jagan, and another key leader, Chukka Rao, were suspected to be among the slain Maoists. The dead include six women cadre of the outfit.
The encounter also claimed the life of Haribhushan's wife, Samakka.
According to agency reports, the slain leader, Haribhushan, had been heading the outfit since the formation of the Telangana state. There was a reward of Rs 3 million (Rs 30 lakh) on his head. According to the police, he was an accused in at least 50 cases.
Further, according to reports, three other police personnel were injured. The injured personnel were airlifted to Bhadrachalam town.
3) Intelligence tip-off sealed guerrillas' fate: The gun-battle occurred after Telangana Police's Greyhounds swooped in on a Naxal camp in Chhattisgarh's Bijapur district in an early morning operation.
The operation took place at around 6.30 AM.
The Maoists received the jolt in the joint operation by the police of the two states in Tadapalagutta-Pujarikamkedu region on the inter-state border.
They surrounded the guerrillas and asked them to surrender. However, the Maoists opened fire, forcing the police to retaliate. Some Maoists escaped deep in the forest.
Additional forces were rushed to the area for conducting combing operations. Senior police officers, including Jayashankar Bhupalapally district Superintendent of Police R Bhaskaran, also rushed to the scene.
4) Bodies of Maoists being identified: Ambar Kishor Jha, Superintendent of Police of Telangana's Bhadradri Kothagudem district, told news agencies: "... Screening of the bodies is going on to identify the deceased."
5) Arms and ammunition recovered: The security forces recovered arms and ammunition, including one AK-47 assault rifle, one SLR, and five INSAS rifles, from the slain ultras.
According to officials, it is normal practise with Maoists that hi-tech assault rifles are given to senior cadre members.
7) Revolutionary Writers' Association protests encounter: Varavara Rao, a member of the Revolutionary Writers' Association, raised doubts over the genuineness of the gun-fight and claimed it was "fake".
According to reports, Rao said the Association has moved a "lunch motion" petition in the Hyderabad High Court, seeking direction to the police to follow the Supreme Court's guidelines related to encounters.
He also demanded that the bodies of the Maoists killed in the encounter be photographed at the site of the incident and shifted to Warangal or Hyderabad for post-mortem examination by forensic experts.
A lunch motion petition is filed in case of an emergency and the case is heard the very same day after lunch.
8) Sixteen Naxals neutralised this week: Friday's encounter followed another gun-battle in Jharkhand: On February 26, four Naxals were killed in an encounter between security forces and the ultras in Jharkhand's Palamu district.
9) Maoists had been active in the area for weeks: There were reports about the presence of Maoists in the old Warangal and Khammam districts during the past few weeks. According to the Telangana police, many ultras had crossed over from Chhattisgarh and had been indulging in extortion and other illegal activities.
In December, eight Maoists of Chandrapulla Reddy Poru Bata, a splinter group of the old People's War, were gunned down by the police in the Bhadradri Kothagudem district.
This was the first major incident since the formation of Telangana State in 2014.
10) Encounter comes after nine Naxals were arrested this week: On February 28, the police said that nine Naxals were arrested during a search operation by security forces in Chhattisgarh's insurgency-hit Sukma district.
The operation, which was carried out in the Bhejji area of the district, was conducted jointly by personnel from the District Reserve Guard (DRG), District Force (DF), Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and its elite CoBRA battalion, a senior police official told news agencies.
With agency inputs