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Massive hunt on for Maoists who massacred cops
Published on 10 Oct. 2009 12:12 AM IST
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More than 300 security personnel on Friday hunted for Maoists who massacred 17 policemen after ambushing them in a jungle strip in Maharashtra’s Gadchiroli district. The bodies of the slain policemen were brought to Gadchiroli town for state honours before they are handed over to their families for the final rites, even as Chief Minister Ashok Chavan vowed to crush the Maoists. Hundreds of civilians gathered to pay their respects to the dead men, whose bodies were placed in wooden caskets. Senior police officers visited Gadchiroli to join the funeral. The government will “wipe out Maoist terror”, Chavan declared in Mumbai late Thursday. Minister of State for Home Nitin Raut vowed to give Maoists “a fitting reply in the language they understand”. Two seriously injured policemen remained warded in a hospital, officials said. The Thursday slaughter was one of the worst attacks on security forces in Maharashtra, one of many states that has seen intermittent Maoist violence since the late 1960s. The officials said that 200 Maharashtra policemen drawn from the region as well as over 100 members of the paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) were searching for the killer Maoists. The ambush occurred about a kilometre from Laheri village when a police patrol was passing through thick forests in search of hidden Maoists. More than 150 Maoists took part in the attack, taking the victims by surprise in a terrain highly suited for hit-and-run attacks. One police officer insisted that the police managed to kill 15-17 Maoists too but there was no independent verification of the claim. “From our intelligence inputs, we have learnt that our men succeeded in killing 15-17 Maoists. Combing operations are underway to flush out the Maoists,” Additional Superintendent of Police M.K. Sharma told IANS here. He added that the Maoists took away the bodies of their killed comrades. Among the dead policemen were 10 commandos of the Maharashtra Police, six constables and sub-inspector Chandrashekhar Deshmukh, all from the Laheri police station. Sub-inspector Deshmukh hails from Satara district of western Maharashtra, 275 km south of Mumbai. Gadchiroli is located barely 30 km from the southern part of Chhattisgarh, and some police officers suspect the Maoists may have fled there. This is the third and most brutal Maoist attack in the Maharashtra region this year, according to a police official. On May 21, 16 security personnel, including four women constables, were killed in Murum village in Dhanora sub-district. It was the first time that women security personnel were targeted. On Feb 1, 15 policemen were killed in a fierce gun battle in Morke village of the same sub-district. The latest attack came a day after home minister P Chidambaram talked tough and at the same time urged the Maoists to shun violence. The killings also happened days before Maharashtra will elect a new state assembly Oct 13. Gadchiroli district is situated around 180 km from Nagpur. Jamir calls for strategic planning to eliminate Naxals Condemning the Naxal attack at Bhamragad in Maharashtra’s Gadchiroli district in which 17 police personnel were killed, Governor S C Jamir today said there should be a strategic planning to combat Naxalism. “This is fourth such incident this year and underlines the need for a strategic planning to eliminate the scourge of Naxalism from the State and the country. I condemn the dastardly killings,” he said in a statement here. The brutal manner in which a group of over 100 Naxalites killed 17 brave police personnel in Gadchiroli district yesterday shows the desperation of the insurgents to derail the election process, currently underway, by terrorising the people, Jamir said. “I salute the brave police personnel who lost their lives while discharging their duty and convey my heartfelt sympathies to the families of the martyred police personnel,” he said.

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