Maoists draw first blood

?ALERT: Security forces carry out combing operation in Chhakarbandha forest in Aurangabad district on Wednesday. Picture by Sanjay Choudhary

Patna: A jawan of the anti-insurgency Cobra battalion of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) was killed during a gun battle with Maoists in Aurangabad district late on Tuesday evening.

Ashish Patra, 24, a native of Bengal, had taken a bullet to his head during the exchange of fire in the forest between Langurahi and Pachrukhi in Aurangabad district. He was rushed to Ranchi, where he died during treatment. Patra, a resident of Surendra Nagar in Bengal, had joined the force in 2011. He was posted with the 205th battalion of the CRPF stationed in the Gaya-Aurangabad region.

A joint Cobra and district armed police team launched a combing operation in the Chakarbandha forest region on Tuesday following a tip-off that some hardcore activists of an outlawed Naxalite outfit had assembled to carry out a major operation. The search operation started in the morning, and the combing team came under fire around 3.30pm. Reliable sources said that the security forces fell into a trap laid by the Maoists.

Aurangabad superintendent of police Satya Prakash said that at least three Naxalites were seriously injured in the gun battle but managed to escape taking advantage of the darkness and the topography.

Aurangabad sub-divisional police officer P.N. Sahu said that the operation in the area, considered to be a hotbed of the Maoists, would continue.

"We have stepped up our operation in the region. Last night's incident will not affect the operation," he said.

Additional superintendent of police (operation) Rajesh Kumar said the lack of communication network in the forest affected the combing operation. Aurangabad SP Satya Prakash visited the area on Wednesday and took stock of the situation.

"This is the first major incident this year in which a Cobra jawan was killed," said a senior police officer associated with anti-Maoist operations in the state. Last year, no such death was reported from any part of the state, he added.

On December 30 last year, Maoists had attacked the site of a private road construction company in the Madanpur police station area. In July 2016, 10 personnel of the highly trained Cobra battalion were ambushed in Aurangabad.

Three suspected Maoists who were allegedly involved in that attack were later killed.


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