The arrest of a person 20 days ago put the joint forces hot on the trail of top Maoist leader Kishenji who had called the shots in junglemahal and foxed them for over two years.
"We came to know from the arrested person that Kishenji, Suchitra and some other Maoist leaders were present in junglemahal," Counter Insurgency Force, Superintendent of Police, Manoj Verma told PTI.
"On November 23 five persons were arrested from Kushbani jungle. After interrogating them we were confident that Kishenji was present in the area. Some documents found from the house of one Dharmedra Mahato also pointed to it," Verma said.
When the operation was planned villagers provided valuable inputs, he said. "From our previous experience we knew that Maoists while escaping took the Jharkhand route and so this time we sealed the Jharkhand border first," he said.
"Two companies of Combat Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA) and two companies of CRPF were used for the final assault led by West Midnapore Superintendent of Police Praveen Tripathi," Verma said.
"It was one of the most organised and planned operations in recent times and only based on human intelligence. No technical support was used in the entire operation," he said.
Kishenji, however, slipped away when the joint forces began closing in on November 23. "But we knew that he could not get far as the Jharkhand border was sealed," Verma said.
On Thursday the Maoists fired on the joint forces when they were going from Kushbani jungle to Burisole jungle. "When the encounter started Kishenji stood in front and fired nearly 30 rounds injuring a CRPF assistant commandant," Verma said.
"He was fighting from the front allowing others to escape. Our jawans shouted at Kishenji and Suchitra to surrender. But he did not and kept on firing and was killed," the CIF SP said.
Asked about Suchitra and the others who fled, Verma said the search was still continuing.
Asked about the allegation that Kishenji was killed in a fake encounter, Verma replied, "human rights organizations cry foul when Umakant Mahato, Sidhu Soren and Lalmohan Tudu are eliminated, but they remain silent when our jawans make the supreme sacrifice."