Three days after the encounter in which 22 security personnel were killed in Bijapur of Chhattisgarh, the Maoists have formally claimed responsibility for the attack and conceded that four Naxals were also killed in the encounter.
In the press statement, Vikalp, the spokesman of the Dandakarnya Special Zonal Committee of the Communist Party of India (Maoists), claimed that 24 security personnel had been killed in the retaliatory action by the People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA) after 2000 armed forces personnel tried to attack the villages of Bijapur and Sukma districts (in Bastar region of Chhattisgarh).
The statement said that the attack was in self-defence and in retaliation against continued military operations since November 2020 that killed over 150 villagers in the area including some of the Maoist cadres and leaders.
The Maoists have also claimed through the press statement that one jawan (Rakeshwar Singh of the CoBRA battalion of the Central Reserve Police Force) was hostage with them, adding that he will be handed over after the government announces the names of mediators. “Till then, the cop will be safe with the Jantana Sarkar,” the note said, referring to the self-claimed parallel government of the Maoists.
Earlier, media persons had received calls about the missing CRPF personnel being taken hostage by the Maoists. Earlier on Wednesday, the CRPF director general Kuldiep Singh had been quoted by agencies as saying, “our one jawan is still missing. Rumours are that he is under the captivity of Naxals. Currently, we are verifying the news and planning an operation in context with the jawan”.
Meanwhile, the Maoists in their statement said that they had no personal enmity with the cops and even expressed regrets to the families of the slain security personnel. “We are requesting them (security personnel) not to become sacrificial goats in the unjust war launched by the ruling class,” the press statement added.
The Maoists also released the names and photographs of the four Naxals killed in the encounter and paid homage to them. They said that they could not bring back the body of female Naxal Odi Sunny, but had taken away the bodies of Padam Lakhma, Kowasi Badru and Nupa Suresh and performed their last rites as per their tradition. Homage was also paid to Madvi Sukkal, who the Maoists claimed was a common villager of Jiragudam, but who was killed and touted to be a Maoist by the security forces recently.
Along with the statement, the Maoists also appended a photograph of weapons and ammunition, apparently looted by them following the encounter. In the statement, they claimed to have ‘confiscated’ 14 guns, over 2000 bullets and other implements.
The statement said that the Maoists were standing as a wall against the loot by the imperialist government that was handing over public sector units to the corporates and therefore the Union and state governments have been talking of completely annihilating the Maoists by carrying out military operations. “(Home minister) Amit Shah has rushed to Bijapur and Basaguda after the incident and is again talking of intensifying military action against Maoists. This is a clear assurance to the imperialists and capitalist cronies of the government. It is under the above circumstances and to save water, forests, honour and life that we are forced to retaliate,” the statement said.
As for peace talks, the Maoists have said that they are always ready for talks, but the government is not sincere in the matter. “On earlier occasions too, those engaged in armed struggle never gave up arms before talks. It is the responsibility of the government to create an atmosphere conducive for peace talks. Talks are possible if actions like concentrating armed forces, setting up camps, launching attacks and oppressive measures are given up,” the statement said.
“However, the governments are carrying out military operations as in Kondagaon, Narayanpur and Bijapur. We have to retaliate in self-defence and this is why security personnel were killed. Fascists (PM Narendra) Modi, Amit Shah, (chief minister) Bhupesh Baghel, (state home minister) Tamradhwaj Sahu, (advisor to home ministry on left wing extremism) K. Vijay Kumar, (special DG anti-naxal operations) Ashok Juneja and (Bastar IG) P Sundarraj are responsible for this,” the statement said.