The police have arrested 13 persons from four villages in north Gadchiroli for their suspected involvement in Sundays massacre of 15 policemen near Markegaon village.
Of those arrested,six are from Markegaon,three from Bandur,three from Katezari and one from Gurekasa village,all closely situated. They were produced before a court in Kurkheda and were remanded to police custody for 12 days.
All the arrested were present at the scene of action when the incident occurred and have a criminal past, SP Rajesh Pradhan told The Indian Express. Police said some of the villages in the vicinity of Markegaon have long been supporting Naxals. At least 10 Dalam members from various Dalams are known to belong to Markegaon and Kosmi, Pradhan said.
A few years ago,when Rajvardhan was Gadchiroli SP,Kosmi village,a police party that had gone for search operations was attacked. The village women had provided shelter to the attackers,forcing the police to call female cops and arrest the people wanted in various cases of arson.
Early last year,some Kosmi villagers had demolished the house of police commando Arvind Madavi in nearby Hirange village and had attacked his parents who were later evacuated by the police. A 120-strong police team had conducted an operation in the village which had put up stiff resistance. Our force was fired at from inside the village and we later recovered about 15 firearms, Pradhan said.
Forty-five-year old Maina Pandi Naitam was among those arrested. Her condition suddenly deteriorated and she was administered treatment on the spot. Later,she was taken to Gadchiroli but she died before getting further treatment. The case,being an instance of custodial death,was handed over to the CID and a post-mortem was conducted by a panel of four senior doctors at Nagpurs Government Medical College. The report had cited cardiac arrest as the cause of death.
The woman was the president of the Naxal range committee that controlled five to six nearby villages and was suspected to be involved in the killing of PSI Dharmaji Surjagade from Gyarapatti police station two years ago. Her husband and son are active Naxal dalam members, Pradhan said. That she was a Naxal cadre later became clear when the Naxal mouthpiece Prabhat paid glowing tributes to her in its July-December issue.
But later we decided to reach out to the villagers and I personally visited Kosmi and asked them what their demands were. They listed many of them. So,we conducted Operation Sarvodaya camp in July last year and provided land extracts,caste certificates and such other documents to many villagers. We also organised a medical camp at the village. The villagers then had taken a pledge that they would not indulge in Naxal activities. But that apparently was not to be, the SP said.