In a setback to Maoists in the Lalgarh area of West Bengal, a top commander and five guerrillas, including a woman, were killed in a six-hour gunbattle in the dense forests of Goaltore in West Midnapore.
In Jharkhand, securitymen went in search of Maoist leader Kundan Pahan in Khunti but returned empty-handed. Officials said there was information that he was present there. Khunti is the operational area of Pahan who is believed to have plotted the beheading of police officer Francis Induwar last October.
In West Midnapore, SP Manoj Verma said Sidhu Soren, area commander of the Goaltore Maoist squad and chief of the Sidhu-Kanhu Gana Militia, was killed in the forest encounter. CRPF commandos and state police overran the Maoist hideout in Koima and Metala. They recovered 16 weapons, all looted from security forces including some from the Silda camp of the Eastern Frontier Rifles.
“We recovered an INSAS rifle with EFR, 2nd Battalion imprinted on it. This implies it was looted from the Silda camp,” Verma said.
Ashutosh Tiwari of the CRPF CoBRA unit was also killed in the encounter that lasted from 2 am to 8 am.