A conspiracy to target security forces was planned nearly a year before the May 1, 2019, attack in Gadchiroli, in which 15 police personnel and one civilian were killed, a chargesheet submitted by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to the special NIA court in Mumbai, has stated.
While the initial plan was to use “cooker bombs” for killing a police team, the operation was withdrawn due to various reasons, including heavy rain and the resulting overflow of Paralkotta river, the NIA has claimed in the chargesheet filed last month.
The attack, which was first investigated by the state police, was transferred to NIA in June 2019. Eight persons, who were arrested last June by the Gadchiroli police, are currently in jail.
In the chargesheet, the agency has said that a meeting, held in the last week of July 2018 to plan an attack on security forces at Aarewada jungle, was attended by “approximately 300 Naxal members from various groups” to take revenge for the killing of 40 Naxals in 2018. The meeting was also allegedly attended by Nirmala Uppuganti alias Narmada Akka and Sathyanarayana Rani — who were later arrested in connection to the attack — and wanted accused Sonu Dada.
“Though… Naxals of CPI (Maoist) could not succeed in their plan, as in two separate firing incidents cooker bomb and other explosive items got seized from the Naxals, they continued their endeavour to take revenge and waited for suitable opportunity,” the chargesheet stated.
The chargesheet, which included statements of 134 witnesses — of which 21 are of protected ones — claimed that apart from the 2018 killings, the accused were also angry at local villagers for voting in the Lok Sabha polls held last April.
The agency further said that after the meeting in July 2018, a two-day camp was arranged the same month, where training was imparted on preparation of bombs and planting of mines in Abujhmad jungle. It also said that two days before the blast, a meeting was held at accused Sukharu Gota’s farm where the plan for the attack was finalised. Gota was later arrested.
Among the eight persons arrested, the NIA has alleged that two — Parasram Tulavi and Kailash Ramchandani — were in charge of relaying information about the movement of the police vehicle. On April 28, 2019, the improvised explosive device (IED) was planted by Satish, who is still absconding, along with Dilip Hidami, Somsay Madavi, Kisan Hidami and Gota, who have been arrested. A day before the incident, Tulavi and Ramchandani again visited the spot to see if the IED was “intact”, the NIA has alleged.
It added that among the evidence seized from the eight accused is Naxal literature, information about the structure and accounts of banned organisation CPI (Maoist), audio files regarding speeches given on taking revenge, files of Red Revolution songs and photographs of timer devices and IED for preparation of bombs.
The agency has alleged that Akka and Rani, who did not file income tax returns, were found with Rs 10.32 lakh of unaccounted cash, suspected to be the “proceeds of terrorism”.
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