HYDERABAD: After a hiatus, suspected Maoists and Telangana police teams exchanged fire at two different locations in interior forest areas of Bhadradri Kothagudem and KB-Asifabad districts in the last 24 hours. A policeman suffered a bullet injury in the Kothagudem incident, while an alleged Maoist sympathiser, Anantha Rao, was arrested in Asifabad late on Wednesday night.
Immediately, both sides opened fire on each other. The five Telangana Maoist State Committee (TMSC) members — Mailarepu Adellu alias Bhaskar, Varghesh, Mangu, Ajay and Ramu —gave a slip to police and escaped under the cover of darkness.
It was the second such incident in Asifabad, where police teams came face to face with the rebels in the last three days, but it was only on Tuesday night an exchange of fire took place and none suffered injuries. On both occasions, the Maoists escaped unhurt. “A Maoist dalam members in olive green military fatigues carrying an AK-47 and SLR weapons fired upon a police party. We retaliated and they fled under the cover of darkness from the scene. Combing operations are on to catch the Maoists,’’ Asifabad in-charge superintendent of police Vishnu S Warrier said.
Incidentally, a similar exchange of fire took place in Kothagudem district, which share border with Chhattisgarh, on Wednesday morning. A policeman suffered a bullet injury, but he was out of danger. Police recovered an abandoned weapon, 13 kit bags belonging to Maoist cadre from the scene of the encounter. Officials were yet to ascertain whether the Maoists suffered any damage.
Officials in both Asifabad and Chhattisgarh said intense combing was being done in both districts with nearly 500 policemen each.
In case of Asifabad, the Maoists reportedly came to replenish their food stocks, arranged by sympathisers who also gave them shelter. On the other hand in Kothagudem, superintendent of police Sunil Dutt said that they got specific information that Maoists had crossed into Telangana from the neighbouring Chhattisgarh.
Officials said that during the monsoon, when the water levels in the Godavari along the borders rise, the Maoists make an attempt to enter the state to make their presence felt by meeting villagers as it is difficult for security forces to keep a tab on them. All public representatives, including MLAs and ministers, have been asked not to visit interior areas in the districts without prior information to police.