While the killing of at least 27 Maoists, including seven of their top leaders, dealt a major psychological blow to the outlawed CPI(Maoist) in Odisha, it has boosted the morale of the security personnel as the Maoists have lost their “safe home” in Malkangiri district.
The killings took place during a joint operation by Odisha and Andhra Pradesh police at Bejingi in the Panasput gram panchayat area under Chitrakonda police station in Malkangiri district, surrounded by hills and forests on three sides and Balimela reservoir on one.
The ultras used to take shelter there after committing violence in Odisha, Andhra Pradesh or Chhattisgarh, said Nihar Nayak, a researcher of the Maoist movement in Odisha, adding that they used to take advantage of the geographical location of the area since they started operating from these parts in the 1980s.
When the Maoists had started using the place as a “safe haven” in the 80s, the then Odisha government had taken little action because the ultras refrained from creating any disturbance in the state. Their activities were mostly confined to Andhra Pradesh, said a senior police officer.
The Bejingi area, where Monday's operation took place, had hosted a meeting of top Maoist trainers last night. The rebels did not think that the security personnel would launch an assault in the deep forests surrounded by hills and flanked by a reservoir, the officer said.
The Maoists had eliminated at least 38 security personnel, including 35 members of Greyhound, Andhra Pradesh’s elite anti-Naxal force, while they were crossing the Balimela reservoir in a mechanised boat in 2008.
At least 27 Maoists, including seven of their top leaders, were today gunned down in a fierce gun-battle with the security forces in Odisha’s Malkangiri district on the border with Andhra Pradesh.