JEYPORE: Top Maoist leader Daya of Andhra-Odisha Special Zonal Committee escaped from the clutches of SOG jawans in Panasput village under Padua police limits in Koraput district on Saturday.
According to sources, an exchange of fire took place between police and Maoists for several hours in the forest. On a tip off that Daya and some Maoists of Chhattisgarh were camping in the forest, police launched an extensive combing operation.
During this time, the Maoists opened fire and the SOG jawans retaliated. The exchange of fire continued for hours after which the Left Wing ultras fled from the spot leaving behind some Maoist materials, arms and ammunition. Police recovered detonators, ID bombs, gun making materials, Maoist literature and uniforms, among other things. Combing operation has been intensified in the villages on Andhra Pradesh-Odisha border after the incident.
DIG, South Western range, Koraput, S Shyni said details about the exchange of fire and casualty can be ascertained only after the SOG team returns to the headquarters. The encounter comes barely two days after a woman Maoist was killed in an exchange of fire at Phulbari forest near Katland village under Bijepur police limits in Kalahandi district.
During the exchange of fire, Maoist leader Nikhil alias Niranjan Rout, who leads the Banshadhara-Ghumsar-Nagavali Division of the CPI(Maoist), managed to escape from the Maoist camp, Shyni told mediapersons a day after the incident.
The division has its stronghold in south of Kalahandi and adjoining Rayagada.
The State police, which has achieved considerable success in containing Maoist menace in southern and northern Odisha pockets, has found Kalahandi-Rayagada axis of the Left Wing Extremists to be a challenge.
While movements of Maoists have been witnessed in 10 blocks of Kalahandi, the situation is acute in tribal pockets of Thuamul Rampur and Lanjigarh blocks.