September 17, 2006 1:23:55 am
The Andhra Pradesh police have maintained that the chief source of income for Naxals has been extortion. But the recovery of three gold biscuits with foreign markings after yesterday’s encounter is making them wonder if the Naxalites are also into smuggling now.
The biscuits were found on the person of the four Naxals killed in the encounter, and weigh about 200 gm each. One bar bore the mark “Credit Suisse – 990” and was probably manufactured in Switzerland. The other two bars bore the mark “Johnson Matthey 990 — London”. Police said a local jeweller had examined them and determined they were made about six years ago.
“This is definitely the first time in the district that we have found gold from Maoists,” said Akoon Sabharwal, who is the OSD in charge of anti-Naxal operations in Warangal. “Either they were smuggled in or the Naxals are converting their money into these. Either way, Naxals should have no use for gold bars.”
DGP Swaranjeet Sen confirmed the recovery but refused any further comment. “We cannot say anything till we know for sure what the Naxalites were doing with them.” About the encounter, police said they had received specific information of a crucial Maoist meeting in the forests. A combing team of local police and Grey Hound commandos, trained in anti-Naxal operations, spotted an eight-member group of Naxals near the Tadwai Mandal area about 8:30 a.m. yesterday. In the 30-minute gunfight that followed, four Maoists were killed while the others escaped.
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Three of the dead were women, and the lone male was Alwara Saraiyah alias Madhu, a division committee secretary of the Maoist organisation. Police said two of the women, Potharajula Vasantha and Mudige Padma, were sves of Maoist higher-ups. The third was identified as Sunarkari Pramila alias Geetha, a member of the local squad. An AK-47, three .303 rifles, kit bags and Rs 42,000 were recovered from the bodies, besides the gold.
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