Review; Slain Naxalites had dropped guns, wanted to surrender, media report claims a fake encounter: The Human Rescue Team

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Date: Wed, Jul 10, 2013 at 9:27 AM
Subject: Review; Slain Naxalites had dropped guns, wanted to surrender, media report claims a fake encounter
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Slain Naxalites had dropped guns, wanted to surrender

Soumittra S Bose, TNN | Jul 10, 2013, 12.51 AM IST

MENDHARI (GADCHIROLI): The picturesque little hamlet of Mendhari, around 90-km from Gadchiroli town, was considered by the Naxalites as a safe haven. The tranquillity here had remained undisputed until Sunday when, for the first time, the villagers witnessed a lopsided bloodbath in which six women rebels were killed in police firing.

The villagers, who claimed to have been thrashed by the C-60 commandos too, told TOI that four of the six girls, who seemed to be just 15-16 years old and were in olive greens, had dropped their weapons and held up their hands in a posture that suggested they wanted to surrender after being cornered by commandos in a paddy field just outside the village. The villagers had already witnessed two girls being shot dead a few minutes earlier in the blatant chase-and-kill drama.

“A girl had been already shot dead in a paddy field just outside the village while another petrified girl had scaled up a tree, but the cops fired bullets at her from down. On seeing this, the remaining four ran in fear to an adjacent field where they held up their hands after dropping the weapons on the ground,” said an eyewitness. “The commandos, however, held the girls by their collars before pumping bullets at point blank range,” he said.

The girls were accompanied by two male cadres. “Being in civil clothes, the cops failed to identify them even as they fled the spot on cycles from under their noses,” the eyewitness added. The group had come to the village take provisions of sugar and tea.

The villagers claimed that the small group of Naxalites had been camping in the forests outside Mendhari for the last few days. “The Naxalites come and go on their own free will. We have no control over them. The commandos from both Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra police too come here while patrolling. We are sandwiched between the Naxals and the cops,” said a local farmer.

The peaceful history of the sylvan hamlet, which has 65-odd families most of them belonging to the Madia tribe, was shattered on Sunday when the villagers had gathered near a thatched hut which they considered their community temple, for prayers. On turning to the direction of the gun shots, the villages saw four girls in olive greens being chased by commandos through the trails in farms. What happened subsequently was an unforgettable experience.

“The commandos started dragging the villagers to the paddy fields and towards the bodies of the girls. The commandos started thrashing the villagers when we were unable to identify the girls. One of the villagers was lucky not to get shot when he started running for fear of being caned by the cops,” said another villager. The villagers claimed they were tortured by commandos and it continued until they were convinced that none of them could actually identify the killed Naxalites.

“The commandos had also tried to drag a woman out of her house but when the villagers raised their voice she was left alone,” said another villager.

The villagers were angry on being asked to lift the mangled bodies of the slain Naxalites. “We were told to carry the bodies or face another round of beating. The commandos were also threatening us to ferry the bodies to the police station or arrange a tractor for them. Finally, someone brought a tractor and we had to mount the bodies on it,” said a villager.

The cops had claimed that they had found 20 rucksacks and several weapons at the spot. But villagers TOI spoke to said that only eight small bags of bullets and water bottles were found.

Slain Naxalites identified

The Gadchiroli police have declared the names of three of the six Naxalites who were killed in the encounter at Mendhari on Sunday. One of them is 23-year-old Pramila Neitam who worked for the Chatgaon Local Guerilla Squad after being inducted into the movement in 2009. She worked for Platoon 20 and Company 10 before being assigned to Chatgaon LGS. Another Naxalite, identified as 18-year-old Reshma Gawde, worked for the Chatgaon Dalam after spending a long time as bodyguard of senior cadre Indrakka. Reshma had left her village as she was unwilling to marry the person arranged by her parents.

20-year-old Swaroopa Dhurve, deputy commander for Gadchiroli division’s supply team, is the third Naxalite who has been identified.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Slain-Naxalites-had-dropped-guns-wanted-to-surrender/articleshow/20994278.cms

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