Police shot dead six Maoists in Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra in an “encounter” early on Sunday. According to a statement issued by the office of the Superintendent of Police (SP), Gadchiroli, the Maoists attacked a Special Operation Squad of Gadchiroli police and the anti-Naxal C-60 force, which was carrying out a search operation, near the forest of Govindgaon under the Gimmalgutta police post in Aheri tehsil at 1.30 a.m.

“The Naxals opened fire on the policemen. When the police team retaliated, six rebels, including two women, were killed on the spot,” the statement said.

The deceased Naxals include the secretary of the Aheri area committee of the CPI (Maoist) Shankar alias Munneshwar Jaktu Lakada (43), Aheri dalam commander Vinod alias Chandrayya Kodape (30), deputy commander of Aheri dalam, Mohan Kowase (25), Jhuru Mattami (20), member of Aheri dalam, Gita Usendi (28), (wife of Vinod Kodape) and Sunita alias Pale Bandu Kodape (18), a member of the Sironcha Local Operating Squad (LOS).

However, the police version of the encounter was contradicted by the villagers and local sources.

Eleven Maoists of the Aheri area committee and Aheri LOS came to Govindgaon under Gimmalgutta sub-division in Aheri of Gadchiroli on Saturday at around 8 p.m. for a meeting, villagers said. The villagers were called to the village centre.

The meeting lasted for about four hours.

The Maoists warned the villagers against consumption of liquor and cutting of trees from the nearby forests, a villager said. The meeting concluded at around 12.30 a.m. after which the Maoists asked the villagers to go home. The Maoists then went to a house in the village for dinner. After finishing dinner, they were planning to leave when around 400 to 500 police personnel attacked them.

However, when a team of journalists visited the “encounter” site, it appeared to be right at the centre of the village.

According to some sources, it was a well-planned “raid” by the police. The villagers said it was the police who opened fire on the Maoists, killing six of them on the spot.

A press conference was called at the Aheri police headquarters at 11 a.m. on Sunday to give information about the “encounter.” Police suspect that two more Maoists might have been badly injured.

Police recovered arms and ammunition, including two SLR rifles, from the encounter site.

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