15 women among the 29 Naxalites killed in Chhattisgarh encounter, says IG

The Congress urged the state to prove no villagers were killed in the encounter

PTI04_17_2024_000104B Inspector General of Police in Bastar Range Sundarraj Pattilingam with others addresses a press conference after security personnel gunned down 29 Naxalites in Kanker district | PTI

Of the 29 killed in the encounter that broke out between the security forces and Naxalites in Chhattisgarh's Kanker district on Tuesday, 15 were women, Inspector General of Police (Bastar Range) Sundarraj P has said.

 "We have recovered 29 bodies were recovered, out of which 15 were female and 14 were male. Arms and ammunition were recovered in large quantities. The autopsy of bodies of Maoists are underway," he told reporters on Wednesday. 

The officials had mentioned that the slain Naxalites were yet to be identified, though it seems senior cadres of the north Bastar division of the CPI (Maoist) were among them. Shankar and Lalita, both divisional committee members of the north Bastar division of Maoists, are believed to be amongst the deceased.

Three security personnel  - a BSF inspector, a DRG soldier and a BSF inspector - were injured in the encounter. "Two are out of critical situation and one is recovering; they are being treated in Raipur. Additionally, other injured staff are getting treatment at their places," the IG added.

He added that AK-47 and other graded weapons were recovered from those killed in the encounter. "Generally, these weapons have been used by senior Maoists. The identification of the weapons will be done soon," Sundarraj said.

He also described the fight against Naxals as the "next deciding factor". "As many as 71 Naxalities have been gunned down this year. This is one of the breakthroughs this year in the state. Preparations are on to give the area and its people a new identity," said Sundarraj. He said they had received intel that 50 Naxalities were there in the area and a search operation has been launched to nab the remaining ones.

Meanwhile, a political controversy has erupted over the encounter with the Congress urging the government to prove that innocent villagers were not among the deceased. Former Chhattisgarh chief minister Bhupesh Baghel, a Congress candidate in the Lok Sabha elections, raised doubts about the encounter, claiming that there had been several fake encounters during the BJP regime in the state. He accused the government of threatening villagers.

Chhattisgarh State Congress Chief Deepak Baij asked the government to prove that all 29 killed were Naxals. "The government is claiming that 29 Naxals were neutralised. Bhupesh Baghel is the former Chief Minister of the state and his words come after due consideration. We can’t deny that he has some input from his sources. Since the BJP came to power, we have seen several incidents where villagers were killed in the name of anti-Naxal operations," Baij said, adding that the government must respond to all the allegations. 

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