The killing of top Naxal leader Milind Teltumbde is a “big setback” to the outlawed Maoist movement in the Maharashtra-Madhya Pradesh-Chhattisgarh (MMC) zone, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Gadchiroli Range, Sandip Patil said on Sunday.
Teltumbde was the key person who, in the last 20 years, gave momentum to the Naxal movement and built it in Maharashtra, he told PTI.
“He was the only future of that movement and there were no other leaders in Maharashtra,” the official claimed.
“Considering his contribution to the Naxal movement and his influence among some parts of the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra and urban areas, he was a very important and key cadre and we were searching for him since a very long time,” he said.
On Saturday, 26 ultras were killed at Korchi in Mardintola forest area of Gadchiroli, located over 900 km from the state capital Mumbai, when the elite C-60 police commando team was conducting a search operation.
Teltumbde, one of the wanted accused in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case, was among the dead cadres, a senior police official said earlier in the day.
Milind Teltumbde, the brother of activist and scholar Anand Teltumbde, was carrying a reward of Rs 50 lakh on his head for his alleged involvement in violent activities against the state.
Anand Teltumbde had been arrested earlier in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case and is currently lodged at the Taloja prison in neighbouring Navi Mumbai.
According to the senior police official of Gadchiroli range, Maharashtra-Madhya Pradesh-Chhattisgarh (MMC) was a very important zone and project of Maoists.
Milind Teltumbde, the MMC zone’s secretary and the only member from Maharashtra in the Maoists’ central committee, was tasked to divert the central government’s attention from hilly areas to the MMC zone, he said.
Since last eight to 10 years, Maoists were working in a big way to expand the Naxal movement in north Chhattisgarh and south Madhya Pradesh, he said.
“It (Milind Teltumbde’s killing) is a big setback for them in the MMC zone because he was its chief in-charge,” he said.
To a query on Milind Teltumbde’s deep links with the ‘urban Naxal’ movement, the official said he was one cadre who had strong connections in both the urban and jungle-based movements.
Milind Teltumbde, along with his wife Angela Sontakke, used to run an “urban network” (of the rebels) in Maharashtra, he said.
He also had links in the Vidarbha region and was trying to influence a particular community and its youth to join the Maoist movement, he claimed.
“He was doing this work in a big way here,” the official said.
As per a chargesheet filed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in the Elgar Parishad case, Milind Teltumbde was named as the ‘dreaded Maoist’, a top operative of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist), and declared as absconding.
He was allegedly involved in the Naxal movement since 1996 and was on the radar of central and state security agencies for the last few years in the wake of his activities.
A witness of the NIA in the Elgar Parishad case in a statement claimed that Milind Teltumbde had lived in Dhammadeep Nagar at Ita Bhatti Chowk in Maharashtra’s Nagpur district.
The witness had claimed that Milind Teltumbde bought a property worth Rs 7 lakh under the name of an associate and stayed there between January 2017 and April 2018.
According to the NIA, Milind Teltumbde used several alias names like ‘Anil’, ‘Deepak’, ‘Sahyadri’ and ‘Comrade M’ while on the run.