The banned Communist Party of India (Maoist) on Monday said their fight was not against the police or security forces, two days after the attack in Chhattisgarh where 22 personnel were killed, the Hindustan Times reported. Maoist spokesperson Abhay also questioned Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s statement that the fight against them would soon take a “decisive turn”.

The Maoists say they are fighting on behalf of the poorest for more jobs, land and wealth from natural resources for the country’s indigenous communities. For decades, the groups have waged an armed insurgency against the government, operating from the thick forests of Chhattisgarh. But Saturday’s toll was the heaviest for security forces battling the group since 2017.

Shah flew to Chhattisgarh on Monday to review the security situation and told reporters that the killings were “an act of desperation by the Maoists”. He added that the counter-insurgency operation will be intensified to take it to a “logical end”.

Referring to this, the CPI(M) said, “From whom Amit Shah will avenge? Oppressed people and Maoists are the same and day by day, the oppressed people are raising their voice against the capitalist and Brahminical government.”

The Maoist spokesperson urged people not to let their children join the security forces. “We believe that those getting recruited into the forces are also part of the exploited people and it is our compulsion to fight when they come with weapons to fight us,” Abhay said. “ We have sympathies with the families of the deceased...”

The statement added that 28 Maoists have been killed in the last four months across the country. During the same period, it said they have been able to kill or injure nearly 100 policemen.

The Maoists have also called for a nationwide shutdown on April 26 to support farmers protesting against the Centre’s three agricultural laws.

The encounter

The fighting erupted on Saturday when security forces, acting on intelligence, raided a Maoist hideout in Bijapur district, the police said. Besides the 22 killed, 31 more were wounded. A Central Reserve Police Force commando is still missing.

Security personnel belonging to the Central Reserve Police Force’s elite CoBRA unit, the District Reserve Guard, and the Special Task Force were part of the anti-insurgency operation. Questions have been raised about faulty intelligence that led to the ambush.

One of the survivors of the encounter had said that they were attacked by over 400 Maoists from three sides. The ambush lines stretched over 2 km near Tekulguda village. Running gunfights broke out near Tekulguda, Jonaguda and Jeeragaon villages, he added.