At least eight Maoists, including five women, were killed in an encounter with police at a forest area in insurgency-hit Sukma district of Chhattisgarh close to Telangana’s Khammam district on Tuesday, police said.
A prominent Maoist leader from Telangana is believed to be among the eight rebels killed in the gunbattle, police sources said.
The slaying of eight Maoists in an encounter is a major setback to the CPI (Maoist) in Telangana.
Amid reports that the dead included CPI (Maoist) Telangana state secretary Yapa Narayana alias Hari Bhushan, police have abstained for confirming the fact pending a certain identification of all the bodies.
Hari Bhushan belonged to Madigudem village in Kothaguda mandal in Warangal district. He worked as the Karimnagar, Khammam and Warangal (KKW) secretary of CPI (Maoist) before his promotion as state secretary last year.
Security personnel of CRPF, Chattisgarh Police, and Greyhounds of Telangana Police were conducting combing operations in the area based on a tip-off about a Maoist meeting when the encounter took place with the Maoists who are suspected to be from the Venkatapuram Area Committee of Bhadrachalam in Khammam district. Secretary of the Venkatapuram Area Committee Lachchanna is suspected to have been killed in the encounter.
Senior police officers said that while details will become clearer once the police parties exit the jungles, the encounter took place somewhere near Sakler in Sukma, around thirty kilometres away from the Chhattisgarh Telangana border. “The encounter took place this morning, and what we know for now according to preliminary information is three men and five women have been killed. Some among the dead are likely to be senior cadres since automatic weapons have been recovered including AK 47’s as well as SLR’s. The operation was planned and executed by Telangana Greyhounds. Since they were entering our territory, they had asked for a few jawans to provide knowledge on the terrain which was given,” said Santosh Singh, ASP, Anti Naxal Operations, Sukma District.
Choppers were pressed into service to evacuate the security personnel from the area and shift the bodies of the rebels, he added.
According to police sources, majority of the cadres killed in the face-off belonged to north Telangana.