Malkangiri: Rakeshwar Singh, a soldier of the Cobra Battalion missing in a Maoist encounter in Tarrem, Bijapur, is in the custody of the left-wing extremists, said sources in para-military forces.
According to reports, the Maoists said that the missing jawan was safe with them and they would not harm him. The ultras also reportedly said that Singh would be released soon, unharmed.
Close to 2,000 personnel belonging to the Special Task Force (STF), District Reserve Guard (DRG), District Force of the Chhattisgarh Police, the CRPF and its elite CoBRA unit, had started a joint operation on 2 April after receiving intelligence inputs about Maoists in Silger and Bodaguda area.
The inputs specifically noted the presence of Hidma, the commander of the lethal Battalion 1 of the Maoists, in the area. The encounter began around noon Saturday. The attack from the Maoists was massive with at least 300 rockets while the forces were carrying out the last leg of area domination at the Tekulagudem hillock.
Maoists first used “indigenous rocket launchers” to attack the security team. As the personnel rushed down the hillock to create a helipad for a quick evacuation, the Maoists struck again, this time with an LMG (Light Machine Gun), sources said. Trapped under a hail of bullets from three sides, the security team found it difficult to escape to safety, resulting in 22 deaths.
The security forces inflicted heavy casualties on the Naxal insurgents leading to the death of 15 Naxals. More than 20 Naxal insurgents were injured in the encounter with the security forces.
The Naxals took away the bodies of the insurgents killed during the encounter in a truck towards dense forests. The security forces found the body of a woman Maoist, identified as Pamed LGS commander Mandvi Vanoja. Her body was found with Insas rifles.
Amit Shah gave a clear instruction to the security agencies that there would be no letup in Operation Prahar against the Naxals. He said the security forces would carry out operation in the Naxal dens.
Sources said it was decided to strengthen both human and technical intelligence, and take help from the NTRO (National Technical Research Organisation, which works under the Prime Minister’s Office). Meanwhile, efforts are on at all levels to secure the release of Rakeshwar Singh.