At least 22 jawans were killed and 31 were injured in an encounter with Maoists in Jonnaguda in Chhattisgarh on Saturday, April 3. One jawan is still missing. The encounter took place along the Sukhma-Bijapur border, where the security forces launched a major operation with 2000 personnel on Friday, April 2.
The encounter broke after the Maoists ambushed a team of security forces near the Jonaguda village, which falls under Jagargunda police station in Sukma.
On Sunday, April 4, Union Home Minister Amit Shah spoke to Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel and assured him of all necessary help from the Centre.
"The Centre and state will fight together and win too," Home Minister Amit Shah told the Chief Minister, as per an official statement. He also directed the Director General of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) Kuldiep Singh to visit Chhattisgarh to assess the situation, NDTV reported.
What Happened On Saturday
Intelligence agencies had warned the security forces about Maoists planning to plant IEDs in Bijapur. Based on the intelligence inputs, more than 400 personnel of CRPF, CoBRA unit, DRG, and special task force launched a joint anti-Maoist operation on April 2.
Security forces were on alert after Maoist commander Hidma was spotted in Bijapur. Hidma carries a reward of ₹25 lakhs. A group of 60-80 Maoists were also spotted in Bijapur shortly before the attack. According to India Today, Hidma led Saturday's attack with the help of other Maoists groups.
When the security team from the Tarrem security base camp was moving through a forest area in Jonaguda, the Maoists attacked. Reportedly, the forces were scattered and trapped along a two-kilometres long stretch of forest area. The Maoists used lightweight machine guns and even rocket launchers during the encounter.
Heavy gunfire was exchanged, and the encounter lasted for three hours at Tekulagudem under the limits of the Tarrem police station. Officials also claimed that Maoists also suffered huge losses and were seen taking the bodies of their dead in two tractors.
A top officer who was part of the anti-insurgency operation said, "It was a conscious decision. We have been at the stronghold and hideout of Maoists. We went well-prepared inside. It was a fierce battle which was bravely fought by forces."