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Covid-19 Reaches Naxal Hotbed in Chhattisgarh, Several Leaders Presumed to be Dead

The Naxal couple, who have been found to be Covid-19 positive. (Image: Bastar Police)

The Naxal couple, who have been found to be Covid-19 positive. (Image: Bastar Police)

The news of pandemic reaching the forests of North Bastar had been coming for some time as the Naxalite couple surrendered was infected with the coronavirus.

The news of the Covid-19 pandemic hitting the Naxalite organisation was doing the rounds for the last three days. Now it has been confirmed as the Naxalite couple, who laid down their arms in front of the BSF on Wednesday at Kamtera Camp in Kanker, have been found to be Corona positive. Both have been admitted to the Covid hospital in Kanker. Bastar IG P Sundararaj has confirmed this.

A few days ago, Sundar Raj urged the Naxalites to surrender and receive proper treatment. “Naxalites have died in the South Bastar region. Their names are being traced. We still appeal to them to come forward and surrender. The police will provide treatment,” he said.

Naxalites Arjun Tati and his wife Lakshmi Padda were immediately brought to Kanker after their surrender and admitted to the hospital.

District Collector Chandan Kumar has given instructions to the Health Department for the proper treatment for both. Both the Naxalites were active in the Partapur Area Committee, where many tall Naxalite leaders are also active. In such a situation, many leaders of North Bastar are also being feared to be infected with Corona.

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A reward of Rs 3 lakh each was declared on both of them. Both have also been involved in several major Naxal incidents. Bastar IG Sundarraj P told News18 that when the Naxalite couple is fully recovered, the police will finish the surrender formalities and question them. “There are possibilities of more revelations in their interrogation,” he said.

According to the Inspector General, the police came to know about the spread of the virus among Naxalites based on a letter recovered from a Maoist camp on Tuesday during an operation that took place two days ago. The letter was written by a CPI (Maoist) cadre to a superior and it mentioned that 7 to 8 cadres died of Covid-19. And about 15-20 others are seriously ill.

The police had also recovered a letter written by a junior cadre to a senior woman Naxal indicating that several of her colleagues and leaders have died due to the Covid-19.

Encounter at Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh border

The Gadchiroli police have killed Naxalites in the forests of Dhanora Tahsil at the Maharashtra-Chhattisgarh border. In this encounter, the security forces have succeeded in killing two Naxalites, including a female Naxalite. The intensive search of the area has been reported by the security forces after the encounter.

The encounter is reported to have happened around 5 in the morning. After the encounter, an intensive search operation is going on in the area. Security forces suspect that some more Naxalites have also been injured.

Naxalites Attacks Grow

In Sukma, suspected Naxalites killed a police constable late on Tuesday. The victim’s wife said that they landed at her door to ask for a tractor and a phone. Vetti Bhima jumped out of a window of his house to escape five armed men but was chased and attacked with sticks before being gunned down.

The murder took place in the Penta area of the Sukma district in Chhattisgarh. The police said how the constable was killed suggests that the attackers belonged to a Maoist organisation, but other possibilities are also being investigated.

According to Bhima’s wife, she did not know whether the murderers of her husband were Maoists or not. She said that they had only asked for tractors and mobile phones from them. Villagers living in the Naxal-affected areas of Chhattisgarh often face such demands from cadres of armed organisations.

In April last month, Maoists killed two youth, including a 15-year-old boy in Sukma, as they have close family members in the security forces.

In another incident, Naxalites killed a villager on suspicion of being the informer of the police in Nellanar in Narayanpur.

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first published:May 13, 2021, 23:19 IST