Tearful farewell to Gadchiroli martyrs

Coffins bearing the bodies of policemen killed during a gunfight with suspected Maoist rebels, during the funeral at Laheri, near Nagpur on Friday. AFP

Hundreds of civilians gathered at the Parade ground in a spontaneous outpouring of grief and respect for the policemen who laid down their lives in the line of duty combating  Maoist terror as the government vowed to crush the Naxalites.

The fragile peace of Gadchiroli was broken on Thursday as the forest adjoining Lahiri in Bhamragad tehsil reverberated with gunfire when a police contingent, also comprising commandos of the elite C-60 anti-Naxal force, came under a barrage of Maoist bullets.
On a terrain suited for hit-and-run tactics often employed by the Maoist guerrillas, the policemen put up a brave resistance, but hugely outnumbered, 17 of them were killed and two wounded.

“The Naxalites had ostensibly come after a lot of preparation and surrounded us from all sides. All of them were heavily armed,” one of the survivors told the media.

“We had gone to the villages adjoining Lahiri police station on patrol when we came under sudden attack. We retaliated and the encounter went on for four hours. Several of our people lost their lives,” he said.

With Maharashtra Assembly polls just four days away, political leaders were cautioned against flying over Naxal-affected Gadchiroli district.

Home Minister Jayant Patil, meanwhile, has said there would be “no rescheduling” of polls in the Naxal-affected areas in the State.

Chief Minister Ashok Chavan said the government will not be cowed down by the Naxal violence and warned the Maoists to give up violence or face an allout offensive.

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