Biggest encounter of Naxals: 29 Naxals killed in Chhattisgarh, 2024’s toll in Bastar rises to 79

The shootout lasted for an hour while the security officers defended themselves by retaliating from three different angles

Biggest encounter of Naxals

Security personnel gunned down 29 Moaists (Naxals) in a fierce gunfight that occurred in the Chote Bethiya area of Kanker district of Bastar division on Tuesday, April 16th, 2024, in one of the largest operations in Chhattisgarh.

The concrete intelligence inputs of the presence of top Maoist leader prompted Shanker, Srita, Raju, and others, a joint team of security forces composed of the Border Security Force (BSF), District Reserve Guard (DRG), and Composite Air Strike Force (CASF) to carry out the combing operation.

Armed Naxals assaulted the combined team of security personnel while they were on patrol in the Binagunda jungles within the jurisdiction of Bethiya police station in the Kanker district of the Bastar division, according to a statement from the Bastar police.

The shootout lasted for an hour while the security officers defended themselves by retaliating from three different angles. According to a top-level police officer, the Naxals fled deep into the forests when they realized that security forces were exerting significant pressure on them. The Bastar police dispatched backup teams to save the jawans and provide them with more assistance.

Image: The Week

“On April 16, a search operation by a joint team comprising of Kanker DRG and BSF was launched in the Chhottebetiya police station limit area in Kanker district. At around 2 pm, there was an exchange of fire between Maoists and security forces near Binagunda-Koragutta jungles of the Chhottebetiya Police station area,” Chhatisgarh police said.

Three security personnel, including two BSF jawans and a DSG personnel, have suffered injuries. They are out of danger. A large quantity of weapons was recovered from the spot including 1 AK 47, 2 INSAS, 3 Carbine/SLR, .303 rifles, guns, and others and the Maoists are being identified. Still, prima facie it seems senior cadres of the north Bastar division of the CPI (Maoist) were among them, Sundarraj added. Among those killed in the encounter, it included top leader, Shakar Rao, who carried a bounty of Rs. 25 Lakh on his head. A further search operation is still underway.

“We shared five inputs, including two inputs giving exact location (one input with GR also) of the north Bastar DVC Maoists in Binagunda area underlining the fact that it acted like a permanent camp of the Maoists since April 5,” an official said.

He adds, “All naxalites killed in the operation were from the north Bastar division. The operation was launched after information of the presence of senior naxals Shankar, Lalita, and Raju in the area.”

Officials say that this would be the biggest military action in the last ten years if the number of Naxals’ deaths exceeds thirty. Before this, in a 2016 raid, Greyhound commandos had killed 30 Naxalites. Top Naxal commander Milind Teltumbde was killed in another operation in 2021 along with 25 other people. Since the start of 2024, as many as 79 Naxalites have been killed off in separate gun battles in the Bastar region.

Chhattisgarh Deputy Chief Minister and Home Minister Vijay Sharma said a large number of Maoists have been neutralized. “I would like to congratulate the jawans of the security forces. We are all working under the leadership of Chief Minister Vishnudeo Sai. Union Home Minister Amit Shah is giving us guidance and all that is necessary will be done to eradicate Maoists problem from Bastar,” he adds.

This operation against the Naxalites comes days before the first phase of the Lok Sabha election in 2024. While Kanker will vote on April 26, the Naxal hotbed of Bastar will vote on April 19.

“Under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, we are determined to free the country from the scourge of Naxalism. Due to the offensive policy of the government and the efforts of the security forces, Naxalism has been confined to a small area today. Soon Chhattisgarh and the entire country will be completely Naxal-free,” the Home Minister added.

Thirteen Naxalites were slain on April 2, while six Maoists were shot dead on March 27 during clashes with security personnel in the Bijapur district. Referring to the incident as a “surgical strike” on Naxalism by the Bastar police, Deputy CM Sharma said, “It was for the first time on the anti-Naxal front that in a face-to-face fight, security forces were completely dominant over Naxalites and did not give them a chance to recover.”

“We want talks (with Naxalites)….whether they do it in a group or through representatives. Bastar needs peace. We are committed to this,” he added.

As part of a plan to eradicate the threat, the deputy chief minister stressed, new security camps have been established in the Naxalites’ stronghold in the Bastar area. Sharma restated his government’s commitment to bringing Bastar’s tranquility back. Bastar’s population ought to profit from development and have access to electricity, and clean drinking water.

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