The death toll in the Bijapur Naxal encounter rose to 22 on Sunday, with another 22 security personnel still reported missing. The encounter broke out on Saturday, in which several jawans were injured and were taken to the hospital for treatment. According to the details, a search operation for those missing is underway. Meanwhile, Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Sunday spoke to Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel over the phone and had a detailed discussion on the gunfight with the Maoists in Bijapur.

For the last 10 days, security forces in Chhattisgarh were getting information about the whereabouts of Madvi Hidma, a top Naxal of banned CPI (Maoist) who has been linked to major attacks including the 2013 Jhiram Ghati killings.

During the conversation, the chief minister apprised the home minister of the ground reality of the encounter between the Maoists and state and Centre security forces in Bijapur.

“The damage caused to the security forces in the encounter is very tragic. But the morale of the security forces is still strong and only we will win this fight against Naxal violence,” Baghel said.

The home minister said the state and the Centre will jointly win the battle against the Maoists and assured the Chief Minister of all necessary help. He informed the Chief Minister that he had issued instructions to the Director-General of CRPF to visit the site of the incident.

In a statement to the media, Chief Minister Baghel said the villagers were disenchanted with the Maoists due to the continuous disruption in the development work in the areas. The villagers are now joining the mainstream of development. Health, education and other facilities are becoming accessible to the remote villages and people are being alienated from the Maoist ideology. To counter this, the Maoists are trying to make their presence known by carrying out such attacks.

Baghel said in the statement that the state government was not afraid of such attacks and was determined to carry out development work in each and every village.

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