RAIPUR: Five security personnel of Special Task Force (STF) were injured in a gunfight with the outlawed CPI (Maoist) at Chintagufa in the strife-torn Sukma district, south Chhattisgarh on Saturday. In a separate encounter in neighbouring district of Bijapur, the security forces gunned down a Maoist.
A joint team comprising of STF, District Reserve Guard (DRG) and Cobra unit of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) on a tip-off launched a major anti-Maoist drive ‘Operation Prahar’ at Tondamarka in Sukma on Saturday with over 1500 security personnel, claimed special DG (anti-Maoist Operation) D M Awasthi.
“This is perhaps the biggest operation so far against the Naxals. At least 15-20 rebels are believed to have either injured or killed in the operation. There were inputs of around 150-200 rebels present in the region”, the DG told the media persons.
According to the Bastar deputy inspector general of police P Sunderraj, the conditions of injured personnel stated to be critical were air-lifted to Raipur for immediate medical attention.
“It was the joint operation of STF, Cobra, DRG, CRPF. All five were evacuated from the encounter spot Tondamarka by chopper”, the DIG said.
Tondamarka according to the police is supposed to be the Maoist epicentre and the safe zone of the left-wing extremists, where the forces had stormed for the first time.
Sukma and Bijapur are among the seven worst Maoist-affected districts in the conflict zone of Bastar.
According to Sukma police, a joint team comprising of STF, District Reserve Guard (DRG) and Cobra unit of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) on a tip-off had launched an intensive search operation, which was a part of an anti-Maoist drive named 'Operation Prahar', on Saturday morning.
As many 1,500 security personnel, the Chhattisgarh police claimed, were engaged in the anti-Maoist drive ‘Operation Prahar’ at Tondamarka in Sukma, stated the special DG (anti-Maoist Operation) D M Awasthi. “This is perhaps the biggest operation so far against the Naxalites. At least 15-20 rebels are believed to have either been injured or killed in the operation," Awasthi told media-persons.
Unconfirmed reports reaching the state capital said that the Maoists had again targeted the security forces who were returning to their base camps in Sukma and killed two jawans.
IAF accomplishes high risk mission to evacuate injured
An Indian Air Force (IAF) chopper Mi-17 took a flight in a high threat zone close to the ongoing anti-Maoist operation area which had to be evacuated of the injured.
"As the nearest helipad for Mi-17 chopper was at a distance, a quick decision was taken by the Task Force Commander of IAF to launch the helicopter to evacuate the five injured security personnel straight from the encounter site. It was not an area that had been secured, like a usual helipad is," said Basant Pande, IAF spokesperson.
Two choppers with a medical team on board had left for Sukma on learning about the encounter at 12.50 pm.
One of the choppers landed directly at the encounter spot at a small clearing in the middle of a densely forested area.
The landing and take-off by the choppers were successfully accomplished despite the presence of armed Maoists in the region.