The Chhattisgarh police on Sunday claimed that heavy damage was inflicted on Maoists during the 48-hour-long Operation Prahar in the State’s Bastar region.Vivekanand Sinha, Inspector General of Police, Bastar, said, “For the first time we conducted an operation in the Maoists’ core area in Sukma. For 48 hours our forces were in the area and inflicted heavy damage. There is a possibility that a minimum of 15 to 20 Maoists were killed in the operation. This is a big morale booster for our forces.”According to sources, Hidma, a Maoist leader and chief of the Maoists’ military battalion in south Sukma, suffered injuries during the operation. Mr. Sinha said, “Many senior Maoist leaders suffered injuries. That we stayed in the area for two days is a big achievement. We recovered a huge cache of explosives and other material.” Mr. Sinha said one of the five Special Task Force jawans injured during the operation succumbed to injuries on Saturday night. However, the Maoists denied the police’s claim that 15 to 20 Maoists had been killed in the operation. In an audio clip, the CPI (Maoist) said, “The police are misleading people about the death of 20 Maoists. Thousands of policemen attacked the villages in Tondamarka on Friday and many villagers died in the attack. Many elderly persons and women were beaten up by the police and forcibly taken away. Our People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army [PLGA] retaliated and managed to kill a large number of policemen. But the policemen are not revealing heavy casualties on their side. Only Lakkhu, a PLGA member, was killed in the counter-attack and the policemen took away his body.” The IGP said villagers reported seeing nine bodies in a village in south Sukma on Saturday.