15 Maoists caught in Maharashtra

February 20th, 2009 - 3:57 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, Feb 20 (IANS) Fifteen Maoists have been caught in eastern Maharashtra during a stepped up offensive by police, nearly three weeks after the rebels brutally killed 15 cops in the same area, a top official said Friday.
The Maoists were caught by the police’s Anti-Naxalite Squad (ANS) from Gadchiroli district late Thursday, police said. Seven locally manufactured guns, bundles of wire and a mine were also recovered from the group.

This takes the number of Maoists arrested this month to 28, ANS chief Pankaj Gupta said. Thirteen Maoists were nabbed by the security forces Feb 6.

Gupta termed the development as ‘a significant step forward” in the police’s fight against Maoists in eastern parts of the state and surrounding central India.

“The operation is the outcome of accurate intelligence inputs which we garnered, strict road blockades and massive combing operations by security forces in two sub-districts infested with Maoists,” Gupta told IANS Friday.

Gupta said contrary to information coming in from various quarters, all the 28 Maoists have been found “very much from and around Gadchiroli.”

Gupta also dismissed as “baseless” reports that the group which attacked the 15-member police team and killed them Feb 1 was led by a woman Maoist called Narmada.

“These were attempts by certain elements to misguide us on the wrong track, but we continued undeterred,” he said.

The latest development has boosted the morale of the police and security forces as it comes 19 days after 15 police personnel were brutally killed by Maoists in Marke village in Gadchiroli.

This was the first time security forces suffered such a large number of casualties in a single attack by Maoists in the past three decades in Maharashtra, shocking the state’s political and security establishment.

Chief Minister Ashok Chavan, Home Minister Jayant Patil and other top officials had rushed to Gadchiroli Feb 2 and rushed additional security of over 2,000 personnel to help nab the culprits involved in the attack.

Gupta said in 2008, around 150 Maoists were either nabbed by the security forces or had surrendered.

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