Milind Teltumbde: From coal miner to top Maoist commander of central India

Home Minister Dilip Walse-Patil officially confirmed the development on Sunday, that indeed, the 57-year-old dreaded Red insurgent and head of its Central India operations, was among those felled by the security agencies' bullets in the Gadchiroli forests in the November 13 encounter.

The excitement in security circles was palpable as news trickled late on Saturday that one of the 26 Maoists gunned down could be of the top leaders Milind B. Teltumbade.

Home Minister Dilip Walse-Patil officially confirmed the development on Sunday, that indeed, the 57-year-old dreaded Red insurgent and head of its Central India operations, was among those felled by the security agencies' bullets in the Gadchiroli forests in the November 13 encounter.

A Dalit, Milind Teltumbde, 57, was the brother of human rights activist and scholar Anand Teltumbde - who is the brother-in-law of Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi President Dr Prakash Ambedkar.

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Anand Teltumbade is among the group of so-called "Urban Maoists" who were raided in early and mid-2018 in connection with the Koregaon Bhima-Elgar Parishad cases - in which even Milind Teltumbade was "wanted" - and is currently lodged in the Taloja Jail, Raigad.

Born in Yavatmal, Anabd Teltumbade studied upto SSC and then completed his ITI course before starting life as ordinary electrician in the Padmapur open cast coal mine in 1984-1985, officials said.

A couple of years later, he came in touch with lawyer Sujan Abraham, who was state secretary of Akhil Maharashtra Kamgar Union with far-Leftist leanings - his maiden forays into what would later become a long and bloody career as an insurgent.

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Milind Teltumbade was gradually attracted to the Maoist ideology and joined the coal workers' movements through the Mazdoor Sangathan, the Indian Mine Workers Federation and then even as President of Naujawan Bharat Sabha.

All the time, he worked in the field and rural areas to recruit volunteers, and also played a critical role in spreading Maoism in urban regions among the educated youth.

By the late 1990s, he was a full-fledged activist of the banned CPI-Maoist and worked as a DVCM for the coal-belts in Chandrapur-Nagpur districts.

In 2004, he became a member of Maharashtra Rajya State Committee and after the arrest of Shridhar Shrinivasan, was promoted as the powerful MRSC Secretary.

Within the next 8 years, by 2012, he was the acting in-charge of the North Gadchiroli-Gondia-Balaghat Division and at the 4th Central Committee Members meeting in April 2013, was promoted as a CCM.

In 2016-2017, the MSRC was wound up and a new 'Maharashtra-Madhya Pradesh-Chhattisgarh (MMC) Zone' was created of which he became the leader - a momentous development in his career as an insurgent.

This year, he was the acting CCM and also head of MMC Zone, with onerous duties - monitoring and analysing security forces' movements in Maharashtra-Chhattisgarh, masterminding and executing major ambushes, blasts and other subversive acts, besides strengthening the Maoist organisation in cities.

Soon, his police graph showed a steep incline - with 63 cases lodged against him including 42 encounters, 7 murders of civilians, 4 killings of police personnel, 2 arson and a dacoity.

Some of the highlights in his CV include: triggering the Jambhulkheda blast of May 1, 2019 which killed 15 security, and Koparshi encounters of May 17, 2020 which killed 2 policemen.

His wife Angela Sontakke-Teltumbade - a highly qualified woman with multiple degrees from University of Mumbai - was arrested by Thane police for the murder of a policeman and Maoist activities, and is currently out on bail.

Besides the Maharashtra Police, Teltumbade was also wanted by the National Investigation Agency (NIA), and moved around with various aliases like Jiva, Dipak, Sahyadri, Pravin, Arun, Sudhir, etc to evade arrest.

Top police officials said with Taltumbade's elimination, the Maoist power in central India has been shaken to the core and the security forces will continue their cleansing operation with renewed vigour.

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