Raipur: Naxalite Deva who was recently made the 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 two days ago, police said.
Three CRPF personnel, including two belonging to its specialised jungle warfare unit CoBRA (Commando Battalion for Resolute Action), were killed and 15 others injured in the encounter near Tekalgudem village on Tuesday.
Asked whether Naxal leader Hidma was present during the 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 Guerrilla Army (PLGA) battalion no. 1 has played a role in several deadly attacks in south Bastar in the past.
Naxal 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 the secretary of Darbha division committee, was made the commander of battalion no.1.
Both Hidma and Deva belong to the same village, Puvrati, located along the Sukma-Bijapur border, police sources said.
Puvrati is 6-7 km away from Tekalgudem where the encounter took place on Tuesday.
Security forces have set up a new camp in Tekalgudem, a Naxal stronghold.
In the last two months, 12 new camps of security personnel have been set up in core areas of Naxalites 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. 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," he said.
"As per preliminary information, in this encounter that lasted for about four hours, at least 7-8 Naxalites were killed and 15-16 Naxalites were seriously injured. The morale of our jawans is high and operations will be continued with more intensity in the area," the official 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.
The 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.