A MAOIST who was recently arrested in Bijapur district while trying to approach her relatives was allegedly asked to return home by Maoist leaders as she developed symptoms of Covid-19, according to police.
Bastar IG P Sundarraj said Sumitra Chepa (32) will be taken into custody after a quarantine period in her village under Modakpal police station limits. “She has a cough and fever. We have taken her samples and are taking care of her medical needs,” he said.
“The Modakpal police in Bijapur were tipped off about her trying to approach her relatives living in the area. We apprehended her in Peddakawali forests. During preliminary interrogation, we found out that she is a member of the People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army’s Battalion 1 since the past 10 years,” he said. “From Sumitra, we have learned that there are others who are sick among them and they are trying to send people back to their villages.”
However, Chhattisgarh DGP Durgesh Awasthi said Chepa’s return is not Covid-specific. “In the past, we have seen cases where Naxals have sent their members back if they become sick… Since it is a guerrilla army, the ill or not physically fit become a burden for them so they are sent home,” he said.
A police official in Bijapur said, “Since she was in the battalion commanded by Hidma, we suspect her involvement in many severe cases. We are waiting for her quarantine period before investigating further.”
Police have increased surveillance in Maoist-affected areas. “We have alerted villagers to inform the police as soon as someone from the cadres return, so that we can check for Covid infections, lest they might all get infected. We have increased our outreach,” Sundarraj said.
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