NIA arrests senior Maoist commander who planned 2013 Darbha valley attack
The National Investigation Agency on Friday arrested Sumitra Punem, a Maoist commander involved in the May 2013 attack on the convoy of Congress leaders and workers in Chhattisgarh’s Darbha Valley, in which 27 people were killed including Mahendra Karma.
Punem, NIA said, is a Local Organisation Squad (LOS) commander and was a team member of the Darbha Division Committee of CPI (Maoist) formation in Chhattisgarh, which executed the deadly attack. 26 more Maoists are still wanted in the case.
About 100-150 cadres of Maoists had targeted the convoy of Parivartan Yatra of the Congress Party in Jheeram Ghati in Darbha on May 25, 2013 with bombs, indiscriminate firing and grenades as part of the organization’s Tactical Counter Offensive Campaign (TCOC).
According to a NIA charge sheet filed in 2014, the conspiracy of the ambush was hatched in the meeting of South Regional Unified Command (SRUC) of CPI (Maoists) held in February 2013 somewhere in the forest area near village Pidia of Bijapur district.
The outfit got information of the possible movement of Mahendra Karma and other Congress leaders to participate in the Parivartan Yatra at Sukma after which they carried out a rehearsal of the attack for five six days inside the forest, states the charge sheet.
A senior NIA officer, requesting anonymity, said Sumitra Punem played a key role in the attack and it’s planning. “She was absconding since 2013,” he added.
“She mobilized the cadres, Jan Militias and local villagers of Darbha area and arranged the logistics for the Maoists,” the officer added.
Earlier, the agency had charge sheeted senior Maoist commanders including Surender, who headed the Darbha Division Committee; Barse Sukka, Hapka Manoj, Tippiri Tirupati, Kishore Korram and Modiyam Ramesh.