Indian security forces slay top Maoist leader and 28 others in deadly forest shootout

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In a significant escalation in the fight against Maoist insurgents, Indian security forces scored a major victory in Chhattisgarh’s Kanker district, where 29 Maoists, including a high-profile leader with a ₹25 lakh bounty, Shankar Rao, were killed in a heated encounter. The operation, which unfolded on Tuesday afternoon in the dense forests near Binagunda, also resulted in the recovery of a substantial cache of weaponry, including AK-47 and INSAS rifles.

The intense firefight, which erupted following an attack on a joint team of the District Reserve Guard (DRG) and the Border Security Force (BSF), led to injuries among three security personnel. Two BSF members are in stable condition, whereas a DRG operative is critically injured and undergoing intensive care. All injured personnel were initially treated at a local hospital, with plans for transfer to a more equipped facility for further care.

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The confrontation began around 2 PM when the combined forces of DRG and BSF were executing an anti-Maoist operation, a routine but critical part of their mandate to maintain security in the region known for insurgent activities. The DRG, established in 2008 specifically to counter Maoist threats, along with the BSF, has been pivotal in these operations. Notably, the area witnessed a similar, albeit smaller scale, encounter last month that resulted in two fatalities, including one Maoist and one police officer.

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The history of conflict in the region includes numerous encounters, notably one during the state’s assembly elections last year, where a gunfight ensued on the first phase of polling day. In a separate incident on the same day, Maoists attacked DRG personnel near a polling station in Banda, Dantewada district, emphasizing the ongoing challenges faced by security forces.

This latest operation not only marks a significant tactical victory for the security forces but also a strategic blow to the Maoist insurgency, potentially destabilizing their operations in the region. The loss of Shankar Rao, a key leader, could lead to a leadership vacuum and disrupt the insurgent’s organizational capabilities. The recovery of high-grade weapons further underscores the scale of the threat and the importance of sustained security operations to ensure regional stability.

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The recent encounter in Chhattisgarh represents a crucial victory for Indian security forces in their long-standing battle against Maoist insurgents. As the state continues to face challenges from insurgent activities, the effectiveness of the security forces’ response remains vital in maintaining peace and enforcing law and order in the affected areas. The ongoing commitment to anti-insurgency operations, exemplified by the bravery and dedication of the DRG and BSF, continues to be critical in the nation’s effort to combat extremism and uphold democracy.

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