C-60 commandos of the police dealt a deadly blow to Maoists in the forest of Paidi, near Kotmi in eastern Maharashtra’s south Gadchiroli, by eliminating 13 rebels, including seven women, during a predawn operation on Friday.
The commandos had laid a “double layered ambush”, cordoning a hillock where the Maoists had set up temporary camp a couple of kilometres from Paidi. They had held a meeting with the tribals in the village previous evening regarding tendu leaf collection and earnings from it.
This stretch had been known as a “safe zone” for Maoists. Sources said the commandos had started their operation on Thursday night but circled the Maoist camp on the hillock in teams in the predawn hours. One AK-47 assault rifle, five SLRs, three .303 rifles, one carbine, pistols and several other materials, including Maoist literature, were seized from the place.
DIG (Naxal range) Sandip Patil said commandos were dispatched in smaller teams from Gadchiroli and Aheri headquarters following input from the police’s human intelligence network regarding the presence of Maoists. “The first bullets were fired from the Maoists camp, after which commandos decided to retaliate,” he said, adding that no commando was injured.
Maharashtra home minister Dilip Walse Patil, who was in the district on Friday, extolled the efforts of the commandos. District guardian minister Eknath Shinde, too, appreciated the teamwork of the Gadchiroli police under DIG Patil, SP Ankit Goyal and additional SP (operations) Manish Kalwaniya.
In Friday’s action, the C-60 commandos managed to wipe out a sizeable chunk of the Kasansoor Dalam, which worked as a crucial link between the Maoists’ north and south Gadchiroli divisions.
The Maoist camp lost senior leader and divisional committee member Satish Mohanda of the Maoists’ Company 4. The deputy commander of the Kasnasoor dalam, Rupesh Gawade, also was killed.
It is learnt that a few Maoists managed to escape with bullet injuries. A village militia member, Kishor Holi, was killed. Senior Maoist leader of north Gadchiroli and action team expert Mahesh Gota’s wife, Sunita Naitam, was among those killed.
Police said four members of Company 4 were eliminated on Friday. “The company formations protect the dalams, but in this case their military men were fewer in number. We will eliminate the rest of the dalams soon if they do not surrender,” DIG Patil said.