Intelligence reports on the movements of a wanted Maoist leader Hidma were allegedly false and turned out to be a trap laid out by Naxals for security forces in the jungles of Chhattigarh. Twenty-two jawans were killed in an ambush on the border of Sukma and Bijapur on Saturday.
According to sources quoted by an India Today report, a large group of armed Maoists was reportedly waiting in the same area where security forces were looking for Maoist leader Hidma after an Intel tip-off on his movements. The security personnel was acting on a tip-off that Hidma, who has a prize of ₹25 lakh on his head, was seen in the area of Jonaguda.
However, the Naxals ambushed them and a fierce gun battle ensued that went on for three hours from a very close range. “It is rare for such specific and accurate human and technical intelligence. It is a big deal if it comes true. Maoist presence in the area ready for a counter-attack makes it look like a trap now,” said an official, India Today said.
The latest reports have put the death toll of security forces at 22. Officials have also indicated that Naxals too suffered a high number of casualties in the encounter.
Many of the security personnel have died due to deyhydration. The gun battle also took place in extreme proximity, media reports said. One of the inspectors killed had his hand cut off by Maoists before being gunned down.
“As the inspector stopped firing to load a new magazine, the Maoists who were in extremely close range pounded and chopped off his hand and then killed him,” said an official.
Meanwhile, Union Home Minister Amit Shah has cut short his election campaign in Assam and is flying back to Delhi to take stock of the situation. Shah said on Sunday that a befitting reply will be given to the Naxal attack in Chhattisgarh at an appropriate time.
“As far as the numbers are concerned, both sides have suffered losses and exact casualty figures cannot be ascertained immediately”, said Shah, who had earlier spoken to Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel to take stock of the situation following the killing.
The chief minister is believed to have briefed the home minister about the steps taken by the state government after the incident, another official said. Shah also directed Director General of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) Kuldiep Singh to visit Chhattisgarh to assess the situation.
Earlier, Shah said in a tweet that the valour of the security personnel who laid down their lives fighting the extremists will never be forgotten. The home minister also said that the government will continue its fight against such enemies of peace and progress.
“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,” he said.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Federal staff and is auto-published from a syndicated feed.)