Hours after the deadly Naxal attack left 73 CRPF personnel dead in Chhattisgarh, Maoists on Tuesday claimed for the first time that their top leader Kishenji was alive and well.

“Not a single State committee, central committee or polit bureau member were killed or injured in the encounter with joint forces in Lalgarh on March 24,” the Maoists said in a fax to PTI here.

“On March 24, police attacked innocent people in villages at Lakhanpur, Salboni, Goaltore and Lalgarh area. Innocent people were killed in the incident, but not a single State committee, central committee or polit bureau member was killed or injured,” the fax sent by the Orissa State committee of Maoists said.

The police and the government were trying to project that Kishenji was killed in the March 24 encounter at Hatiloth forest, it claimed.

“By doing so they want to demoralise the people, but they cannot stop the people’s movement,” it said.

The police, however, had no information about Kishenji.

“Till now we don’t have any information about Kishenji. We don’t know whether he is dead or alive. We are trying to gather information about him,” West Midnapore Superintendent of Police, Manoj Kumar Verma, told PTI.

The faxed statement, however, admitted the death of Sunil Gorai, a squad member of the Dalam squad on Saturday.

“Comrade Sunil was not killed in an encounter. He was picked up from his home when he was sleeping and killed by the police. It was a cold blooded murder.”

The Maoists also claimed responsibility for the killing of ten Special Operation Group (SOG) personnel in Orissa’s Koraput district on Sunday.

“It is an answer to the deployment of excessive force by the central government in Orissa.”

It claimed that Centre was trying to protect Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and industrialists and not the common people.

“We will stand by the poor despite brutal attacks and anti—people policies by the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, Naveen Patnaik and Shibu Soren Governments. They will have to answer the people,” it added.

Keywords: Naxalite ambush