Four Chhattisgarh police personnel were killed and nine injured in an encounter with Maoists in Narayanpur district of Indian state of Chhattisgarh on Wednesday (24 Jan).
Police officers said two of the deceased were sub-inspectors, two others were constables, all from the District Reserve Guard, a force created primarily to fight Maoists.
Two of the nine injured are in critical condition and are in the ICU, while the rest are said to be stable, officials said.
Officers said the exchange of fire took place inside Abujhmaad, an unmapped area of dense forest and hills with little government presence.
D M Awasthi, special DG, anti-Naxal operation, said a team of more than 350 personnel of the District Reserve Guard and the Special Task Force had left the Orchha and Kadenar camps in the early hours of Wednesday morning for an anti-Maoist operation. â€œThe area where the encounter took place is near Irpanar, in Abujhmaad, which is perhaps the most sensitive area there is, much like South Sukma,â€ Awasthi said.
A massive exchange of fire that lasted a little over an hour broke out around 11.30 am. Awasthi added that while no bodies have been recovered, they believe there has also been heavy damage to the Maoists. The deceased have been identified as sub-inspectors Vinod Kaushik and Moolchand Singh Kanwar and constables Devnath Pujari and Raisingh Markam.
Police officers said the encounter took place primarily with the Maoist battalion number 6. â€œThis is one of the most deadly military battalions the Maoists have and it is often supplemented by local operation squads and divisions in the area. When senior leaders want entry or exit from Abujhmaad, it is this battalion that is pressed into service. It is always around a 10 km radius around Irpanar. It is headed by the commander Sobhi, with other leaders including Urmila and Hemlal,â€ a senior police officer said.
Another officer The Indian Express spoke to said they first received a message around 11.45 am that there had been an exchange of fire. â€œWe first had information about two policemen being killed and four injured. The area is remote, so evacuation by ground was not possible. So an IAF MI-17 was pressed into service and landed near the encounter spot. It evacuated all the injured and flew to Raipur. The deceased were also on board and were taken to the Narayanpur district headquarters where post-mortem will be carried out,â€ a senior officer said.
Chief Minister Raman Singh, who is on his way back from Australia after attempting to woo investors, condemned the Maoist attack and expressed condolence for the families of the slain personnel. The Congress expressed its sympathies and attacked the ruling government for failing to control Maoist violence in the state.