3 Shaurya Chakra declared for Gadchiroli Police
The Gadchiroli district police is being feted for having performed the historic feat of being conferred three gallantry awards this Independence Day. Somay Munde, IPS, NPC Ravindra Naitam, NPC Tikaram Katenge are being conferred with the Shaurya Chakra for the Mardintola encounter which led to the killing of CC member Milind Teltumbde and 26 other dreaded naxals. It is a proud moment for the entire team led by S.P Ankit Goyal.
On 12/11/2021, information was received about the gathering of armed members of Communist Party of India (CPI) (Maoist) group, numbering roughly 120
-130 heavily armed insurgents
and they planned to conduct a major attack on security forces in the backdrop of PLGA week. As per the orders and under the supervision of Shri Ankit Goyal, SP, Gadchiroli, an anti-naxal operation was chalked out by Shri Somay Munde, Addl. Supdt. of Police (Ops.), Gadchiroli. Based on this plan, an operation was launched involving 15 C60 parties led by Shri Somay Munde, Addl SP (Ops). As per the plan, the operational
parties were divided into three group. On 12/11/2021 during the nocturnal hours, the first group led by Shri Somay Munde and another five officers and 137 policemen and the second group
composed of seven officers and 110 policemen set out from Gadchiroli and were dropped via vehicle 8 km from the target area. Employing utmost stealth and speed both groups covered the said distance on moonless cloudy night trough hilly and densely forested area within 5 hours under cover of darkness. They reached the forest of Alondi on 13/11/2021 early in the morning. Similarly, the third group consisting of one officer and 85 men set out from AOP Kotgul at midnight of 12-13/11/2021 and reached the target area early in the morning.
Thereafter all the three groups together began to comb through the forest. On 13/11/2021 at around 0600 hrs to 0630 hrs, while combing through the forest of Mardintola, the Maoists hidden on the hilltop, suddenly attacked the second group by opening indiscriminate fire. The commandos managed to shield themselves behind the trees and rocks and shouted out in appeal to the Maoists to stop gunfire and surrender. But the Maoists continued to fire at the commandos. The commandos of the second group retaliated at the direction of the Maoists by
opening controlled fire. As the police pressure mounted, the
Maoists fled into the thick forest. As the gunfire was heard by Shri Somay Munde, he immediately established coordinating among all the three groups through walkie
-talkie sets and identified the direction in which Maoists fled. Shri Somay Munde chalked out a plan and thereafter began to chase the
Maoists. As the commandos reached the near a hill, 90
-100 armed Maoists hidden on the hilltop again attacked the
commandos by opening accurate and devastating fire.
During this exchange of fire, Shri Tikaram Katenge received grievous bullet injuries on the right hand and right shoulder. Due to bullet injuries to his right hand, his dominant hand was incapacitated and heavily bleeding. Sensing grave danger to his colleagues, in spite of grievous injuries, he shifted his rifle position to left hand and continued to retaliate. His unexpected counterattack
caught three advancing naxals in surprise, during which he was able to neutralize all three Maoists armed with automatic
weapons. In spite of fatal injuries, he continued to retaliate and showed conspicuous bravery. His counterattack encouraged
his fellow commandos to retaliate aggressively in spite of being pinned down. He kept presence of mind in spite of bleeding heavily and fought pitched battle with the enemy merely 20 meters away. Through his gallant act, he was able to prevent further loss not only to his person but also to his buddies. But Maoists, seeing wounded jawans, began to encircle them in order to kill and snatch away the weapons of jawans. Maoists were using accurate BGL fire in order cause maximum damage. Due to growing pressure and heavy fire, the trapped men radioed Shri Somay Munde for immediate assistance. Shri
Somay Munde directed his section to provide cover fire while he along with 6 men left their cover and began crawling to the spot under heavy fire. His assault group achieved a dominating
position to lay accurate fire on the Maoists. Through controlled and accurate use of area weapons and automatic fire, he and his assault group neutralized six heavily armed Maoists.
Further, in order to take advantage of this momentum to break the encirclement, he along with his buddy Shri Ravindra Naitam charged at the remaining Maoists in spite of a volley of bullets flying around. He and Shri Ravidnra Naitam laid down accurate fire to neutralize three more Maoists in order to save
wounded jawans from imminent danger.
The Maoists continued to fire indiscriminately at the commandos. Due to the excessive bleeding from the hand of injured Shri Tikaram Katenge, it was urgently required to evacuate him for
immediate medical attention. Shri Munde formed a small group of commandos and sent them to identify a suitable place for helicopter landing for CASEVAC. While this group was moving along the edge of a hill, 20-25 armed Maoists suddenly attacked the group. After some time, the Maoists began flanking the group from different sides in order to lay fire from various directions at the jawans. Immediately, one of the commando informed Shri Munde over a walkie-talkie set about the encirclement of the Maoists and called for assistance.
Sensing grave danger to his men, Shri Munde along with his group started moving towards the exchange of fire from the right direction. Meanwhile, he directed the third group to rush towards the exchange of fire from the left direction. This coordinated flanking movement ensured that Maoists were outflanked. During this flanking maneuver, two Maoists hiding
in the nearby bush fired indiscriminately at the flanking jawans in order to achieve surprise. Shri Ravindra Naitam, who was
pilot of one of the sections, through presence of mind and
utmost alertness identified the two hidden Maoists firing from the automatic weapon. With utter disregard for personal safety, he charged at the two Maoists and silenced them. During this charge, he received a grazing bullet wound to his head. In spite
of shock and bleeding due to the bullet wound, he continued to fire in order to maintain pressure. His presence of mind and
alertness ensured that his fellow jawans were saved from two Maoists in near-perfect ambush position. Meanwhile, seeing his wounded buddy in imminent danger from other Maoists, Shri Munde, with utter disregard for personal safety, left his cover and charged ahead and laid down cover-fire in order to achieve fire superiority. This surprise counter-attack by ShriMunde stunned advancing belligenrets. Through spot-on tactical acumen and audacious manuever, he was able to neutralise two more armed Maoists. This sudden counter attack destroyed morale among the Maoists rank, due to which they retreated from the wounded jawan. Due to this, other jawans were able to pull wounded Shri Ravindra Naitam to safety. Due to the coordinated attack of the commandos from both the
sides, the Maoists began to retreat. Hence, the trapped
commandos could be rescued successfully.
During the search, police found 26 Maoists including women lying unconscious on the ground. Also 29, firearms and other naxal belonging in huge quantities were recovered from the place of incident. Importantly numerous shells of spent BGL
were testimony to the amount of firepower used by the Maoists during exchange of fire. Further, a search operation on 16/11/21 led to discovery of another body along with a firearm.
In recognition of extraordinary courage displayed by the police
personnel, Shri Somay Munde, Addl. Supdt. of Police (Ops.),
Shri Ravindra Naitam, Police Naik and Shri Tikaram Katenge, Police Naik are awarded Shaurya Chakra.