Naxalite Deva suspected to have led attack on security forces in Sukma: police

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Raipur, Jan 31 (PTI) Senior Naxalite Deva who was recently made commander of `battalion no.1', the strongest military formation of the outlaws in Chhattisgarh's Bastar region, was possibly leading the group that attacked security personnel in Sukma district on Tuesday, police said.

Three CRPF personnel, including two belonging to its specialized jungle warfare unit CoBRA, were killed and fifteen others injured in the encounter near Tekalgudem village.

To a question as to whether Maoist leader Hidma was present during Tuesday's attack, Inspector General of Police (Bastar Range) Sundarraj P said it did not seem possible.

"There is least chance of presence of Hidma, but Deva was possibly present there," he told PTI.

Deva recently replaced Hidma as commander of the Naxalites' battalion no. 1, the IG added.

As per police sources, the so-called Peoples' Liberation Guerilla Army (PLGA) battalion no. 1 has played a role in several deadly attacks in south Bastar in the past.

Maoist documents recovered after recent encounters revealed that Hidma was elevated to the central committee of the outlawed CPI (Maoist) and Deva alias Barse Sukka, who was secretary of Darbha Division Committee, was made commander of battalion no. 1.

Both Hidma and Deva belong to the same village, Puvrati, located along Sukma-Bijapur border, police sources said. Puvrati is around 6-7 km away from Tekalgudem where the encounter took place on Tuesday.

Security forces have set up a new camp in Tekalgudem, a Maoist stronghold.

In the last two months, 12 new camps of security personnel have been set up in core areas of Maoists in Sukma and Bijapur districts (six camps in each district), said IG Sundarraj.

"In a way we have entered the area which is called the base of PLGA battalion no. 1. The tough resistance from Naxalites was expected and we were fully prepared. Unfortunately we lost our three men, but our jawans fought courageously and gave them a befitting reply. As per preliminary information, in this encounter that lasted for about four hours, at least 7-8 Naxalites were killed and 15-16 Maoists were seriously injured. Morale of our jawans is high and operations will be continued with more intensity in the area," he said.

Chhattisgarh Director General of Police Ashok Juneja, Additional Director General CRPF (Central Zone) Amit Kumar, state's Additional Director General of Police (anti-Naxal Operations) Vivekananda Sinha, IG Sundarraj P, IG CRPF Saket Kumar and other senior police officials on Wednesday visited Tekalgudem camp and met the jawans, a police statement said.

Bastar Police and central security forces were determined to free the people of the region from the Naxal menace and ensure peace, security and development, Juneja was quoted as saying. PTI TKP KRK