Maharashtra police say 26 Naxalites, including Milind Teltumbde, killed in an encounter in Gadchiroli

Published : November 15, 2021 15:31 IST

Ankit Goyal (2nd from right), S.P., Gadchiroli, along with other police officials during a press conference in Gadchiroli on November 14. Photo: SUNNY SHENDE/PTI

The Maharashtra police said they carried out an attack on a Naxalite hideout in the Gadchiroli region of Maharashtra and killed 26 members of extreme leftwing organisations. The police claimed that among the dead is Milind Teltumbde, a leader of the banned Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist), and one of the accused in the Bhima Koregaon/Elgar Parishad case.

The State government said the operation began in the Gyarapatti forest in the early hours on November 13 and went on until 4 p.m. the next day. Home Minister Dilip Walse Patil told mediapersons that this was the biggest and longest attack on the Naxalite movement in recent years and believed it would have broken the back of the reportedly growing movement.

The police told local mediapersons that they had been focussing on the movements of “Company four” to which Teltumbde belonged. They believe that this group was responsible for the ambush in 2009 in which 31 policemen were killed. More recently, 15 policemen were killed in a landmine blast in 2019 which is believed to have been planted by CPI (Maoist) troops. Following intelligence reports, a State police contingent consisting of 300 C-60 commandos ambushed the Maoists on November 13. Several key members, including Milind Teltumbde and his body guards Bhagat Singh Jade and Vimla Singh, were killed in the encounter. The police said arms, ammunition and other explosive materials were recovered from the encounter spot.

While there is no evidence as yet to confirm Teltumbde’s death, Superintendent of Police Ankit Goyal told mediapersons: “Surrendered Naxals have identified one of the bodies as that of Teltumbde.”

Several of those killed had a bounty on their heads. According to the police, Mangu Podyam from Dantewada, Chhattisgarh, carried a reward of Rs.20 lakh, Shivaji Raoji Gota from Gadchiroli carried a reward of Rs.16 lakh and Vimla Singh and Bhagat Singh Jade four lakh each.

Teltumbde, it is alleged, was a top-rung leader of the CPI (Maoist). He is the younger brother of Anand Teltumbde, a Dalit rights activist and intellectual. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has charged both brothers with indulging in “anti-national activities” including an alleged assassination attempt on the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the Bhima Koregaon/Elgar Parishad case. Anand Teltumbde has been in jail since 2020.

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