Days after the Bijapur encounter left 22 Jawans martyred, Director-General of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) Kuldiep Singh on Tuesday revealed that the security forces had come in contact with at least 700-750 trained Naxals during which the forces managed to ambush, and neutralise more than 28-30, inflicting heavy damage on the other side. “We had reports that there was heavy presence of Naxals in a village in Bijapur. We planned a joint operation of Cobra battalion, DRG, Bastariya Battalion and STF Chattisgarh. There were a total of 450 people in the operation,” DG said.
“It was a search and destroy operation. The forces went to the area on April 3 and searched the area in the early morning light. When they were returning after the search, Naxals who had set up an ambush, started randomly firing at the security forces using country made Under Barrel Grenade Launcher (UBGL) and large numbers of light machine guns (LMG) and other automatic weapons. There were approximately 700-750 Naxals with whom forces fought and broke their ambush,” DG added.
Moreover, the DG also strongly refuted claims suggesting any intelligence failure and lack of leadership in the operation, maintaining that there was no lapse in any part of coordination, intelligence, operational, reinforcement or rescue. “Commandant level officers were there. The strategy was fixed. The forces broke the ambush and guarded the injured at the same time. They walked 8-9 kilometres while neutralizing the Naxals. Thereafter, the Naxals took protection in the village houses,” he said.
While the actual number of casualties has not been ascertained, DG Singh has stated that at least 28 Naxals were neutralized during the operation however the numbers could be much greater.
The deadly encounter between security personnel and Maoists took place on Saturday in Chhattisgarh’s Bijapur district when security forces hunting for Maoist commander Hidma met with hundreds of Maoists that opened fire upon the jawans. As per officials, 22 jawans have been martyred in the encounter while several others were left injured and were rushed to the Bijapur and Raipur hospital. According to the initial reports, the encounter lasted for over 3 hours and severe damage was inflicted on the Maoists as well.
Cutting short his campaign in Assam, Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel returned to his state to take stock of the situation where he also met the injured Jawans at the hospital. One Jawan Rakeshwar Singh Manhas is still missing with reports suggesting that he is in the captivity of Naxals. Currently, the forces are verifying the news and planning an operation, according to CRPF DG Kuldiep Singh.