Maoist leader Milind Teltumbde was among the 26 naxals killed in an encounter with police in Maharashtra's Gadchiroli district, a senior police official told PTI on Sunday, November 14. The gun-battle took place on Saturday at Korchi in Mardintola forest area of the district, located over 900 km from Mumbai, when a C-60 police commando team was conducting a search operation, police said. Milind Teltumbde is the brother of activist and scholar Anand Teltumbde, who was arrested earlier in the Elgar Parishad case and is currently at the Taloja prison.
The C-60 commandos said they recovered bodies of 26 naxals during a search after the encounter. When the fierce encounter ended around 3:30 pm on Saturday after almost 10 hours, 25 members of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist) apart from Teltumbde had been killed, police said. According to the police, those killed were among those gathered in large numbers in the forest to plan "subversive" activities against security personnel ahead of naxal week.
Police said Milind Teltumbde carried a bounty of Rs 50 lakh, and that this delivered a huge blow to the banned movement in the Maharashtra-Madhya Pradesh-Chhattisgarh (MMC) zone, DIG, Gadchiroli Range, Sandip Patil said. Milind Teltumbde was the key person who in the last 20 years gave momentum to the naxal movement and built it in Maharashtra, the DIG told PTI.
"Considering his contribution to the naxal movement and his influence among some parts of the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra and urban areas, he was a very important and key cadre and we were searching for him for a very long time," he said.
Gadchiroli SP Ankit Goyal said the police had received intelligence inputs two days before the Saturday operation about the presence of a naxal camp in the Mardintola forest in the Gyarapatti area of the Korchi tehsil.
"A team of 300 police personnel, including C-60 commandos and SAT, along with additional SP Soumya Munde launched the anti-naxal operation. They started conducting a search operation on Thursday night in the forest. Around 6 am on Saturday, over 100 ultras opened heavy firing with their sophisticated weapons and ammunition on C-60 commandos and Special Action Team (SAT) personnel," he said.
As per a chargesheet filed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in the Elgar Parishad case, Milind Teltumbde was named as a 'dreaded Maoist', a top operative of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist), and declared as absconding.
According to the SP, when C-60 commandos came under fire on Saturday morning, they appealed to the naxals to stop gunfire and surrender. "But, disregarding this appeal, naxals intensified the gunfire. The ensuing gun battle between the police and the ultras continued close to ten hours and ended at 3.30 pm when sensing mounting police pressure, the naxals fled from the place of the incident taking cover under the thick forest. During the search, the commandos recovered 26 bodies which included 20 men and 6 women," he added.
The cache of arms and ammunition was recovered which includes five AK-47 rifles, one AKM-UBGL, nine SLRs, three .303 rifles, nine 2.2 single bore, one Insas rifle, one pistol and explosives. Among the slain naxals, Divisional Committee Member (DVCM) Lokesh Madkam was carrying a reward of Rs 20 lakh on his head and Mahesh Gota of Rs 16 lakh. "Commanders" Kishan Jaiman and Sannu Kowachi each carried a reward of Rs 8 lakh on their heads, the SP said.
Among the female naxals killed in the encounter, Vimla alias Manso Boga, who was the bodyguard of Milind Teltumbde, was carrying a cash reward of Rs 4 lakh reward on her head, the official said. The police said Teltumbde had 67 major offences, including participating in encounters against the police, murder and dacoity. They alleged that he was the mastermind in laying many an ambush, triggering bomb blasts and other subversive activities. He played a vital role in strengthening naxal organization in urban areas, police said. He was allegedly involved in the naxal movement since 1996 and was on the radar of central and state security agencies for the last few years in the wake of his activities.
According to police, Milind Teltumbde had been involved in 42 incidents of encounters, murdering seven civilians and four policemen. Other cases against him included those of arson and dacoity.