The villagers of Bhatpar village in Bhamragad division of Gadchiroli have claimed that one girl, of eight Naxalites gunned down by Gadchiroli police on Thursday morning, was never a Naxal cadre.
The Gadchiroli Superintendent of Police (SP), Mohd. Suvej Huque, had told The Hindu on Thursday that the police had recovered five bodies, of which two were women.
Mr. Huque had identified the two women as Ritu, the deputy commander of Platoon No.7 of Naxals and the other one as Sarita of village Jambia Gatta in Aheri.
But Kumma Badga Tado of Bhatpar village, near which the encounter took place, has claimed that his daughter Sunita (17) was one of the two women whose body was recovered by the police.
According to villagers, a team of Naxals visited the village the night before the encounter and they could have taken Sunita with them to help cook their food.
“My sister was never a Naxal. We had no idea when she went with the Naxals on that night,” said Vinu Kamma Tado, Sunita’s brother.
Sunita’s sisters Shanti and Kari said that on Thursday morning Sunita had worn a blue gown, but the photo issued by the police showed her in a shirt of Military green colour (the Naxal uniform) and a white cloth wrapped below her waist.
Villagers claimed that the Naxal shirt may have been put on her body by the police, but the SP denied it.
“Many Naxals had removed their clothes and jumped into the river when the firing started. We could not have shown naked bodies so some clothes were put on their bodies and then they were photographed” said Mr. Huque.
Villagers suspected that some of the Naxals may have removed their clothes before jumping into Indravati River and when Sunita was killed, police may have put one of the shirts lying there on her.
“We accept that our girl went with them. But at least now the police should return her body to us,” one villager told The Hindu.
Villagers also claimed that Dinkar Timma and Ramu Kuduyam, two commanders of the special anti-Naxal force C-60 of Maharashtra police, accepted that the girl killed in Thursday’s encounter was Sunita, when her family showed some of her photos to them.
When asked about the claim of the villagers, Mr. Huque said “If the family of the girl comes out and identifies her, we have no objection in giving the body to them.”