Maoists kill 16 cops, Maharashtra vows to crush ultras (lead)May 21st, 2009 - 11:39 pm ICT by IANS
Nagpur/Mumbai, May 21 (IANS) Maoists killed 16 police personnel, including four women, in Maharashtra’s Gadchiroli district Thursday evening - the second major attack by the ultras in four months.
Meanwhile, Minister of State for Home Nitin Raut has vowed to crush the Maoist menace in the state with a “bullet for bullet” policy.
“The Maoists have strayed from their so-called noble ideals of helping the poor people get justice. This is not what is expected of them. This is the most severe attack on the rule of law in the state. We shall not spare them - it is ‘bullet for bullet’ henceforth,” a determined Raut told IANS.
Recounting the sequence of events, Raut said that the 16 police personnel were travelling in two vehicles - a Maruti Gypsy and a Commander jeep - in Hattigota area in Gadchiroli district, 300 km from Nagpur, when a heavily armed gang of Maoists opened fire on them at around 4.30 p.m.
This is the second brutal attack on security forces in the Maoist-infested Dhanora sub-district. On Feb 1, as many as 15 policemen were killed in Morke village in a Maoist ambush.
The two attacks - within a span of four months - have come as a major shock to the Ashok Chavan-led Democratic Front government.
Raut has left by road from Nagpur for the incident site. He is expected to monitor the flushing out operations. State Home Minister Jayant Patil is leaving for Gadchiroli Friday morning.
According to police, the Maoists had ordered for a two-day shut-down in the area which was due to end Thursday evening.
“The police patrol was on a routine recce mission post-shutdown to prevent any untoward incident when they were attacked by an unknown number of Maoists,” said Deputy Superintendent of police of Gadchiroli, Srihari Munde.
Raut said this is the first instance in which at least four policewomen have been killed by the Maoists.
He said additional security forces are being rushed to the affected areas from the neighbouring districts of Chandrapur, Bhandara and Nagpur.
Senior officials from the district, including Superintendent of Police Rajesh Pradhan and Anti-Naxalite Squad (ANS) chief Pankaj Gupta have also rushed to Dhanora to supervise the combing operations in the thick forests.
Meanwhile, Gadchiroli police control said the bodies of the killed police personnel are being brought to the district headquarters.