The police on Tuesday recovered the bodies of three more Maoists who were killed in an encounter near Jantri in Malkangiri district on the Odisha-Andhra border, reported ANI. However, they did not confirm if there was a fresh round of firing on Tuesday morning or if the bodies recovered were from Monday.
Visakhapatnam Superintendent of Police (Rural) Rahul Dev Sharma told The New Indian Express, "We have to confirm it with the combing forces whether there was an exchange of fire in the wee hours of Tuesday or the bodies are of those that remained untraced on Monday." With this, the toll rose to 27.
There are varying reports on the identities of the 24 Maoists who were killed on Monday. A police officer told Hindustan Times, “So far, identity of 14 slain Maoists has been established and the remaining bodies are yet to be identified.” However, there are differing accounts on this. Malkangiri Superintendent of Police Mitrabhanu Mohapatra told Deccan Chronicle that all the 24 bodies were identified, while other reports said the identities of 10 deceased Maoists have been ascertained.
Investigators believe the encounter – carried out by a joint team of the Greyhounds, Odisha Police Special Operation Group and District Voluntary Force – eliminated a few senior leaders of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist) outfit. The assault commander of Andhra Pradesh’s Greyhound forces was injured during the encounter and later succumbed to his injuries. Of the top leaders from the group suspected to have been killed in the operation, two (Munna and Gajarla Ravi) are the sons of Maoist central committee member Ramakrishna, reported The Indian Express.
The families of those killed alleged that the encounter was fake and demanded an inquiry. Human rights group Andhra Pradesh Civil Liberties Committee has filed a petition in the high court, challenging the killing, according to Hindustan Times.
In September 2013, 13 Maoists were killed by the police in an encounter in Podia block in the same district.