Raipur: At least 22 security personnel have been killed in the line of duty after an encounter yesterday with Maoists in Chhattisgarh’s Bijapur district, about 400 km from state capital Raipur. A member of the security group is still missing.
This morning, Director General (Naxal Operations) of Chhattisgarh Police Ashok Juneja said the number of deaths have increased to eight; yesterday five security personnel had died in action.
On Saturday, separate joint teams of security forces, with over 2,000 personnel, launched a major operation from Bijapur and Sukma districts in the South Bastar forests, considered a Maoist stronghold. At around 12 noon, the Maoists laid an ambush, leading to an encounter that lasted for three hours.
Today, Home Minister Amit Shah spoke to Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel and took stock of the situation. He also directed Director General of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) Kuldeep Singh to visit Chhattisgarh to asses the situation.
“The centre and state will fight together and win too,” Home Minister Amit Shah told the Chief Minister, as per an official statement. He has assured all necessary help from the centre.
“I bow to the sacrifices of our brave security personnel martyred while fighting Maoists in Chhattisgarh. Nation will never forget their valour. My condolences are with their families. We will continue our fight against these enemies of peace & progress. May injured recover soon,” Mr Shah had tweeted earlier.
President Ram Nath Kovind expressed anguish over the killing of soldiers in Chhattisgarh’s Bijapur Naxal attack saying the nation will never forget their sacrifice.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted last evening: “My thoughts are with the families of those martyred while fighting Maoists in Chhattisgarh. The sacrifices of the brave martyrs will never be forgotten. May the injured recover at the earliest.”
Chhattisgarh chief minister Bhupesh Baghel has condemned the incident and said the martyrdom of the jawans will not go in vain, and the anti-Naxal operation will be intensified, an official statement said.
“Our jawans have displayed exemplary courage by inflicting massive damage on Naxals (in this incident). Operation against Naxals will be intensified,” the CM said.
Expressing his condolences, Baghel directed officials to ensure the best treatment to the injured jawans, the release said.
So far, 30 security personnel have sustained injuries, state’s Deputy Inspector General (anti-Naxal operations) OP Pal said. “Among the martyred personnel, one belonged to the CoBRA unit and two each are from the DRG and the ‘Bastariya’ battalion of the CRPF,” the DIG said.
He said seven injured personnel were airlifted to Raipur and admitted to hospitals there while 23 others are undergoing treatment in the Bijapur district hospital.
“The death toll could increase in the next few hours. The teams for evacuation have been sent to the jungles,” said the official.
This was the second major Naxal incident in the state in the last 10 days.
On March 23, five DRG personnel were killed when Naxals blew up a bus carrying the security personnel with an IED in Narayanpur district.
On March 21 last year, 17 security personnel, including 12 from DRG, were killed in a Naxal ambush in Minpa area of Sukma district.