VISAKHAPATNAM: A heavy exchange of fire took place between Maoists and a joint team of Andhra Pradesh Greyhounds and Odisha Police after the latter raided a camp of the red rebels near Tikarpadu under Jodamba panchayat of Malkangiri district in Odisha on Monday.
The police teams which seized heavy ammunition from the Maoist camp in the deep forests under Chitrakonda Police Station limits suspect around 60 red rebels managed to escape. The exchange of fire reportedly took place in the forest when the police forces traced down a Maoist camp during a combing operation jointly conducted by AP Greyhounds and the Special Operation Group (SOG) of Odisha.
Top Maoist leader Akkiraju Haragopal alias Ramakrishna, popularly known as RK, and a few other top leaders are suspected to have fled from the spot. Police authorities in AP said no casualties were reported and added that it is yet to be confirmed if RK is among the Maoists who fled.
It is for the second time that the AP and Odisha police have traced down a Maoist camp in the jungle, after the Ramgarh encounter in which about 30 Maoists were killed in October 2016.
“The Maoists opened fire when the police parties were searching the forest area and the latter retaliated.
Though the red rebels managed to flee, the police teams found a camp and huge arms and ammunition were seized,” a press note issued by the Malkangiri Police said. The cops suspect that top Maoist leaders had gathered in the forest to chalk out strategies for their future course of action. A senior police officer from Visakhapatnam told TNIE there were around 60 Maoists at the camp.
“There were a number of Maoists from Chhattisgarh at the camp. Probably, the red rebels are trying to gain strength by inducting Chhattisgarh cadre as the frequency of recruitments on the AP side has come down,” said a senior police officer, on condition of anonymity.
Ramakrishna managed to escape despite sustaining injuries on his leg during the Ramgarh encounter on October 24, 2016. Since then, Maoists have been trying hard to strengthen their cadre in the AOB region as the ultras have been facing a tough time owing to lack of enough members.