Maoist guerillas struck after a long time in Gadchiroli on Friday, where they burnt 14 vehicles belonging to a road contractor in Etapalli tehsil.
Additional Superintendent of Police Hari Balaji said, “we had issued written instructions to all contractors that they should deposit their vehicles at the nearest police station in the wake of the Naxal People’s Liberation Guerilla Army (PLGA) week beginning December 2. But a local contractor, Lokesh Dongarwar, working on the Gattepalli-Wattegatta road hadn’t complied. Today, ten drivers employed on his vehicles came to our Halewara post to inform that they were taken inside the jungle by ten Maoists at gun-point and were kept hostage there for the whole night. And in the evening, they set fire to 14 vehicles -nine JCBs, four tractors and one pick-up vehicle. The drivers were allowed to go in the morning.”
Balaji said, “we are not rushing to the spot as we have information that a large group of Naxals, about 40-50, could be waiting there for a possible ambush. We would make our moves tactically.”
“Also, a large force was employed for road opening to facilitate smooth relief for a State Reserve Police Force team in the area,” he added. The Naxals have faced their worst reverses in Gadchiroli with 50 casualties, including the 40 gunned down in April this year in the same Etapalli tahsil. Two more were killed in an encounter on November 19. “The Naxals are trying to pep themselves up with this kind of arson,” Balaji said.
Naxals had carried out their biggest arson in history in December 2016 by setting afire over 80 trucks deployed for ferrying iron ore extracted from the Surjagad mine in Etapalli tehsil.