By BS Reporter
In a major breakthrough in anti-Naxal operation, security personnel gunned down five ultras at Bhaliagada jungle on the border of south Odisha’s Ganjam and Gajapati districts on Wednesday in an encounter.
Top Naxal leader Sabyasachi Panda and some of his associates managed to escape from the spot. Two security personnel sustained injuries in the gun battle that lasted for an hour.
The security personnel are out of danger, said a senior police officer.
“The bodies were located but they are yet to be identified,” said DIG (southern range) R K Sharma. The deceased, all male, were suspected to the members of the Odisha Maoists Party led by Panda, he said.
The camp of the Naxals was detected in the area following a joint combing operation by the Special Operation Group (SOG) and District Voluntary Force (DVF) in Ganjam and Gajapati districts. Sharma said, he had no knowledge whether Panda was injured in the incident.
The anti-Naxal operation group recovered a sophisticated Italian pistol, suspected to be used by Panda, from the spot during the search operation after the encounter. Sharma said, the operation was still going on in the area with involvement of around 100 security personnel. The details of recovery from the spot were not known.
This is the second major success by the security forces in the anti-Naxal operations in the last two years. In 2010, the security personnel had gunned down at least nine Naxals at Basangamali jungle in Kasinagar police station in Rayagada district.
C S Meena, superintendent of police-Gajapati said, the joint operation followed the intelligence inputs about the movements of the Naxals in the area. Around 15 persons were in the camp during the raids, he said.
The close associates of Panda, who were suspected to have escaped from the encounter, include Nikita, Pradip and Sagar.
The security forces were keeping a strict vigil on the movement of Panda after he was expelled from the CPI (Maoist).