In an unusual exhibition of rage,for the first time in the states Naxal history,a group of about 11 Maoists,all men,killed a woman allegedly on the suspicion of being a police informer by slitting open her throat.
The incident occurred at Benasurtola village in the Kasansur police station area in the Etapalli tehsil of Gadchiroli district. The deceased has been identified as Gitabai Topo,45,a converted Oraon tribal Christian who was very vocal against Naxal vandalisation of a church at the village in October last year.
True,a woman has been killed for the first time. Our information is that they suspected her to be our informer,which is not true. We are trying to know the real motive, Additional Director General of Police (anti-Naxalite operations) Pankaj Gupta told The Indian Express.
Deputy Superintendent of Police Chandrashekhar Meena,in-charge of Etapalli area,said,The modus operandi was typical of Naxal murder of civilians. But we are investigating the exact reason which may even be personal animosity.
Incidentally,this is the 10th civilian murder by Naxalites in this year so far,which is an unusually high number,going by the figures of some past few years (2005-27,06-41,07-24,08-15).
Early last month,Naxals had killed 15 policemen in an ambush at Markegaon village in north Gadchiroli. Gupta said,Obviously,the Naxal offences have increased. We know they are also in TCOC (tactical counter offensive) mode. And our operations are also on.
The Gadchiroli Police and neighbouring Chhattisgarh Police are jointly conducting Operation Parakram to corner the Maoists in the aftermath of the Markegaon police ambush.
Another interesting angle to the story is that Benasurtola is where Naxalites had vandalised a church in October last year. The Naxal grouse,according to Superintendent of Police Rajesh Pradhan,was that the village comprising mostly progressive converted Christian tribal community called Oraon wasnt supporting the Naxals and was seen as a threat to the Naxal ideology.
Gitabai was among those outraged by church attack and was very vocal about it. A note left behind by attackers,who have identified themselves as Kasansur area committee of CPI (Maoists),claims Gitabai was providing information to police about Dalam movement. Clearly,since we have had some big successes in the Etapalli area in the past few days in terms of arrests and encounters,the Maoists are getting desperate. But to kill a woman in such a brutal fashion is really reprehensible, Pradhan said.
The village is in a state of shock and outrage over Gitabais killing, he added.
Gitabai is survived by husband and a daughter,who is a teacher in Etapalli.
The only recorded previous church attack by Maoists in Gadchiroli was in 2001 at Bhumkamtola village,about 20 km from Benasurtola on Chhattisgarh border.