IN yet another major success in South Gadchiroli, the police killed three Naxalites, one of them a high-ranking cadre on Tuesday.
Sunil Kulmethe, about 40, recently named a member of South Gadchiroli Divisional Committee of CPI (Maoist), and wife Swarupa, about 38, were killed along with another woman cadre, who was yet to be identified, in an encounter in Srikonda hill area of Sironcha tahsil. This is the first time that a husband-wife couple was killed in an encounter in Gadchiroli.
Deputy Inspector General of Police (Gadchiroli range) Ankush Shinde told The Indian Express, “The encounter happened between 9 am and 10am. We had information about a Naxal formation there. We have recovered three bodies. Of them, one is Sunil Kulmethe. Of the two women dead, one is his wife Swarupa.” Both had got recruited into the Naxal movement around 2001. With this, the number of Maoists killed in Gadchiroli this year has gone up to seven. On March 30, a Maoist was killed in an encounter in Etapalli tahsil.
The Naxal movement in South Gadchiroli had now been crippled with a loss of ten cadres since December. In an encounter near Kalled, seven Naxalites were killed. While Sunil Kulmethe had managed to escape during the encounter in Kalled, Swarupa was amongst those injured.
Kulmethe was commander of Sironcha Dalam till recently and was believed to have been elevated to DVC rank. He is the fourth DVC rank Naxal to be killed in Gadchiroli encounters till date.