Security forces claimed to have killed nine Maoists, including sub-zonal commander Basant Yadav, in an encounter in Latehar district early on Friday.
“Basant was a sub-zonal commander of the Koel-Sankh zone and was wanted in over a dozen cases. He was involved in the July 16, 2010, attack on Latehar SP Kuldeep Dwivedi in which five jawans were killed.” Palamu DIG Laxman Prasad Singh said.
On the other hand, a senior Maoist leader said there are no casualties on their side. “Basant had been expelled from the party for extortion a couple of years ago,” he added.
Police said the bodies of the Maoists had been recovered from the site. They also claimed to have found five rifles, three pistols, an SLR and over 200 cartridges there.
Acting on a tip-off, security forces carried out an operation in the Luhur forest under Barwadih police station around midnight. They surrounded a thatched hut where two rebels were on sentry duty around 12.30 am. The rebel sectaries opened fire when the security forces asked them to lay down their arms. On hearing the gunshots, other Maoists rushed out. This was followed by a fierce encounter between the two sides,” the DIG said.
The rebels reportedly fired about 450 rounds while the security forces retaliated with around 400 shots. The encounter, police said, continued till 4 am.
Singh said the Maoists were planning to make Basant commander of the Koel Sankh zone. Most of the slain Maoists were in plainclothes.
Speaking to TOI on the phone, Pramjeet, spokesman for the Maoists’ Madhya zonal committee, said the people involved in the encounter were followers of Basant, who was removed from the party two years ago. It is big achievement of Jharkhand police against hard core Maoists of west-southern part of Bihar/Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh. Paramjeet said we want factions like Jharkhand Liberation Tigers, Tritiya Prastuti Committee. He said the security forces use these groups to weaken our organization and then kill them calling them Maoists.