Naxal bodies being retrieved from the site. (Express Photo: Deepak Daware)
THE MYSTERY over the disappearance of eight Gattepalli villagers — five women and three men — the day before the April 22 police operations against Maoists in Gadchiroli has further deepened with the police claiming that none of the five releases issued by Maoist fronts say that the eight were present on the spot at the time of the incident.
“Maoist fronts have made five claims about the number of people who died in the April 22 and April 23 police operations. None of the five lists mention that the eight Gattepalli villagers were among the dead,” SP Abhinav Deshmukh told The Indian Express.
“So far, we have found only 34 common names mentioned in these lists… We have informed the relatives of those who remain unidentified. Among them, some have come and we have taken their DNA samples,” he added.
“The name of one girl from Gattepalli, who was identified by her parents earlier this month, too, doesn’t figure in the lists. So, the possibility of the Gattepalli villagers being at the spot of the operation on April 22 hasn’t been corroborated even by Maoist fronts.”
Asked if this means one of the eight, Bhujji Usendi, reportedly identified by the parents, too, could have been a case of mistaken identity, Deshmukh said: “Even that would be confirmed after the DNA test results arrive.”
“We have unconfirmed information that they could have been taken away by Raghu, a member of the South Gadchiroli divisional committee (DVC) of CPI (Maoist)… This was after they were taken away by fellow villager Sainath, another DVC member, who died in the April 22 operation,” he added.
The five lists include one issued by Dandakaranya Special Zonal Committee from Bijapur of Chhattisgarh, which names 33 dead and mentions eight as “militia members”. The others include a release issued by the party’s western sub-zonal bureau that identifies 22 members and mentions three villagers; a list by the south sub-zonal bureau of Sukma in Chhattisgarh claiming 42 died; a Telangana state committee list also claiming 42 people had died and the Civil Liberties Committee issuing a list of 43 deceased, while identifying 42 of them.
“We have identified 19 of the deceased. The remaining would be identified through DNA tests,” Deshmukh said.
The villagers had claimed the eight had left the village at 7 pm on April 21 to participate in a wedding at Kasnasur village — about 15 km away — but never returned. The spot of the April 22 incident was about 5 km from Kasnasur.