AT LEAST eight of the 39 Maoists killed in the two police operations in Gadchiroli on Sunday and Monday may have been new recruits, possibly only a day or two into the fold.
On Thursday, nine people from Gattepalli village came to Gadchiroli to meet Superintendent of Police Abhinav Deshmukh. Divisional committee member Sainath, killed in Sunday’s operation, belonged to Gattepalli.
“The people who came to meet me said that five women and three men from their village had gone with Sainath a day or two before the incident. Sainath used to take the eight to the forest, according to them. There is a possibility that they were being trained for recruitment. The eight may have eventually joined as militia members. The villagers said that the eight haven’t returned since then,” Deshmukh told The Indian Express.
Among the nine Gattepalli visitors, seven were relatives of the eight men and women.
Deshmukh added, “We have asked them to see the bodies of the deceased Maoists to check if the missing eight men and women were among them. They could not confirm from the bodies kept in Gadchiroli Government Hospital mortuary. So, we sent them to Chandrapur where some of the bodies have been kept.”
Meanwhile, the number of Maoists whose identity has been established has remained unchanged at 18.
“The villagers said that the eight men and women, mostly in their early twenties, left the village possibly to attend a wedding Saturday in Kasnasur village near the spot where one of the encounters happened. But one of the nine visitors told us that he was present at wedding, but the eight were not there,” the SP said.