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 In an encounter with the C-60 squad of the Maharashtra police and CRPF, at least 37 Maoists have been gunned down in the past 48 hours in the Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra.

Several bloated bodies were pulled out of the Indravati River. The state security forces had on Sunday launched an aggressive assault on Maoists in Kasansur village of Gadchiroli, with continuous weapon firefight for nearly four hours claiming the lives of 16 ambushed Naxals.

On Monday night, 15 more ultra-left insurgents were gunned down in another fresh gunfight in the Kapewancha area in Rajaram Kahnhila village of Jimlagatta region, barely 36 hours after Sunday's encounter. On early Tuesday, the C-60 commandos recovered 6 more bodies as part of their search operations. No police casualty was reported.

The bodies of the Maoists, which were bloated and had started to decompose, were found floating in the river which flows along the Maharashtra-Chhattisgarh border.

Of the 37 Maoists killed in the encounter in the past three days, three were high-ranking commanders of Naxals and seven were women. A high-ranking commander of the Aheri Dalam, identified as Nandu, is among those killed. Also, at least 12 identified dead Maoists carried a combined bounty of Rs 8.2 million.

Maharashtra Director General of Police has attributed the success to “pinpointed intelligence” inputs that the C-60 commandos of the Maharashtra police were receiving during the intense operation.

 A blow to Naxals’ rebellious activities in the region, this operation is the biggest anti-Maoist battle in over 38 years. The Gadchiroli district is among the worst affected by the Maoist insurgency.

According to an IANS report, at least 15 killed Maoists are believed to be among those who managed to escape into the forests during Sunday's encounter as they must have subsequently succumbed to their injuries while attempting to cross the river.

Here are the top 10 developments around the anti-Maoist encounter operation in Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra:

1.The Gadchiroli encounter demonstrated how security forces could launch an aggressive assault on Maoists based on pinpointed intelligence. On Sunday, in the forests of Kaswapur in the south of the district, on the border of Maharashtra and Chhatisgarh, some 1,000 km from Mumbai, the anti-Naxal C-60 squad of Gadchiroli police started the encounter to locate the Naxal cadre members. The operation was carried out between 10 and 11 am and continued till 1.30 pm in the forested area. After a four-hour gun battle, some 16 Maoist militants were killed but police believed they had shot an unknown number as the insurgents tried to escape into the Indravati River. The search and combat operations were interrupted by heavy rain and bad weather but the assault on Maoists resumed and continued uninterrupted for the next two days which took the toll to 37, according to an IANS report.

 2. Gadchiroli operation continues: Late on Monday and early Tuesday, as part of the search operations, the state security forces came upon the bodies of 21 slain Maoists in total in two consecutive days floating near the banks of the Indravati River along the Maharashtra-Chhattisgarh borders, making the total toll reach 37.

3.Confiscation of weapons: Apart from fishing out bodies of the Naxals from the Indravati River, the security forces were able to recover a sophisticated stock of arms, ammunition and weapons, including two AK-47s, two INSAS, three SLRs, three .303s, one 58-mm gun, eight 12 bore rifles, a musket, pittus and detonators, besides Naxal literature from these operations, said an IANS report.

 4.Among the 37 killed militants, Sainath alias Dolesh Madhi Atram, 32, was a prominent leader and was carrying a reward of Rs 1.6 million on his head, the police said. Rajesh alias Dama Naruti, hailing from Murgaon in Gadchiroli district was carrying a cash reward of Rs 400,000. One of the identified rebels was a 17-year-old girl, a member of platoon no. 7 of the Naxals, while another 17-year-old girl was Aheri Dalam commander, the police claimed. According to a police official, Nagesh alias Dulsa Narote, 32, belonged to Jharewada in the Gadchiroli district. He was also a member of Naxals' Permelli Dalam militant group. Police officials have informed that the Aheri and Sironcha dalams have been totally wiped out in the three-day-long encounter operations which claimed four out of five of their prime leaders.

5.Home ministry set for ‘final push’ after Gadchiroli success: According to a report in The Times of India, the Gadchiroli success has encouraged the Rajnath Singh-led home ministry to plan a ‘final push’ in 30 worst-hit districts spread over seven states, setting the stage for “the proposed wipe-out of Left-wing extremism by 2022”.

6.Celebration of the victory over Naxals: The triumph achieved after executing 37 Maoists was celebrated with no-holds-barred dancing and merrymaking by the security officials in the past three days.

7.Gadchiroli on vigilance and other states on high alert: After last three days' unrestrained weapon firefights and retaliation, the Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra has been sealed off by the security forces, as they are still on the lookout for the militants in the jungles, villages, hills and valleys to kick them out from their deep hideouts. Other Maoist-affected states in the neighbourhood like Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana have also gone on a state of high alert ever since the state security forces here launched their biggest and most crushing anti-Maoist operation in almost four decades.

8.Will the Naxalites surrender? The Maharashtra police is expecting that many more Naxals will surrender in the coming months. Their hope rose after the state security forces killed 16 Naxalites in an encounter in Gadchiroli district on Sunday (April 22). "We have clamped down on their (naxals) funding which has helped us in tackling Naxalism. We expect to see a number of naxals surrendering in the coming months”, said Satish Mathur, Director General of Police, Maharashtra. He also added that the police is active in the zones where the Naxalite activity has been observed. "Naxal activity has been noticed in tri-junction area of Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, we are active in that area," Mathur informed.

 9. Rajnath Singh takes stock of the Gadchiroli situation: Home Minister Rajnath Singh had on April 22 called up Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to take stock of the security situation in Gadchiroli district where at least 37 Naxals have been gunned down by the Maharashtra police and CRPF's C-60 commandos, an official said. During the telephonic conversation, the chief minister briefed the home minister on the details of the operation in which the Maoists were killed. Singh also discussed with Fadnavis about the Left-Wing Extremism situation in Gadchiroli district and other related issues, the ministry official said.

10.Who are Naxals?: A Naxal or Naxalite is a member of the Communist Party of India (Maoist). The word “Naxal” comes from the name of the village Naxalbari in West Bengal, where the movement had its origin in the 1960s. Naxalites are considered far-left radical communists who are supportive of Maoist political sentiment and ideology.

Last modified on Wednesday, 25 April 2018

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