iconimg Saturday, September 05, 2015

Pradip Kumar Maitra, Hindustan Times
Nagpur, January 20, 2013
In a major success, the state police claimed to have gunned down six suspected naxalites, including a divisional committee member and two women activists near Jimalgatta forest in Gaddchiroli district, some 300 kilometres from Nagpur on Sunday early morning.   The deputy inspector general of police (DIG) of Gadchiroli, Ravindra Kadam, informed that the encounter took place at Govindgaon in south Gadchiroli, bordering Andhra Pradesh, one of the naxalite-influence regions of the state. All the bodies have been brought to Aheri police headquarters, for post mortem.

The operation was conducted by the C-60, an elite anti-naxal squad, at mid- night following a tip-off about the presence of Maoists in the jungle. “We have succeeded to gun down six naxalites, including some top-ranking leaders of CPI (Maoist) early this morning,” claimed Kadam.

The operation conducted by the C-60, based on the intelligence inputs in Govindgaon jungle, was very well coordinated and executed. Two more naxalites were reportedly injured and the para-military forces have launched a search operation in the area to capture them. The naxalites who were killed in the police firing include: the south-Gadchiroli divisional committee member Shankar, Aheri dalam (squad) commander Vinod and his wife Geeta. Other three naxalites are yet to be identified, Kadam added.

It was said that the incident took place when about 10-15 naxalites of the CPI (Maoist) were taking rests in the Govindgaon jungle. 

No policemen were injured in the firing, the reports said. The police have recovered one self-loading rifle, two 12-bore rifles and other arms and ammunition from the spot. 

The district police claimed that the left-wing extremists were addressing a meeting in the area when the para-military forces reached the spot. However, a human rights activist from Allapalli, who preferred to anonymity, asked how naxalites could hold a meeting at mid-night. “The police claim is not convincing,” he pointed out.

The tribal district of Gadchiroli, the most backward region in the state, is under the naxal influence since 1980.  It was first noticed when a young naxalite of the then CPI of Peoples War Group, Peddy Shankar was killed in a police encounter near Sironcha, bordering Andhra Pradesh in September 1980.

With the deaths of the divisional member, Shankar and Aheri dalam commander Vinod, the naxalites suffered a major setback in Maharashtra and particularly Gadchiroli district. Earlier, the Gadchiroli divisional secretary, Shivanna was killed near Kanker in Chhattisgarh while their senior leader, Murali alias Satya Reddy of North Gadchiroli division was arrested, along with Mumbai-based Maoist, Arun Ferreira in Nagpur. Its two very senior leaders, Vernon Gonsalves and Sridhar Srinivasan were arrested in Mumbai a few years ago and now in jail.

The CPI (Maoist) has divided the Gadchiroli district into three operational divisions: North Gadchiroli-Gondia-Rajnanadgaon division, North Gadchiroli and South Gadchiroli. Of them, North Gadchiroli and South Gadchiroli come under Dandyakaranya Special Zonal Committee while North Gadchiroli-Gondia-Rajnandgaon falls under Maharashtra unit. A division consists more than 20 armed squads (dalam) and platoons. Milind Teltumde is now the secretary of Maharashtra committee. Teltumde’s wife, Angela (43) was arrested by the state police from Thane in April, 2011.