At least 13 Maoists were killed during a gunbattle with security personnel in a forest area in Malkangiri district. (AP photo)
A mole within the rebel camp helped police carry out Orissa’s biggest ever encounter early Saturday morning, leaving 13 Maoists dead and causing a major setback to the Andhra Orissa Border Special Zonal Committee of the CPI (Maoist).
The mole, a Koya tribal, and his interlocutor were part of a small team of 40 policemen, led by Malkangiri SP Akhileshwar Singh, that carried out the assault at Silakota village. The senior most of the rebel leaders present, however, escaped in the attack.
It was the precise information provided by the Koya tribal that helped police reach the remote spot, near Silakota, where the Maoists were camping. It is a small clearing less than 100 metres in length and breadth surrounded by Phoosa hills and thick forests. The nearest road is over 10 km away.
Heavy rain Friday night also helped. “Yes, the information was precise. We knew our targets. They were in three tents, and there were three sentries. We crossed the layer of sentries, but they had taken shelter in the tents due to the rain,” Singh told The Indian Express.
The downpour also drowned out the sound of police movement. Confident of the precise nature of the information, the SP said they didn’t feel the need to call it additional troops or Central forces. “A small team is always handy in such cases,” he said.
According to one Silakota villager, the Maoists had arrived at the spot just hours before the attack. “We had no information about them. Normally whenever they come, they inform us and seek food from us,” the villager said.
The team led by Singh left their Malkangiri headquarters, around 70 km from Silakota, about 11 pm. They covered the last 10 km, where the forests began, by foot.