Gadchiroli IED blast: Local shopkeeper relayed location of commandos to Maoists, says chargesheet

Srinath Rao

NIA officials said that the shopkeeper supplied wires and other material in his shop that were used to make the bomb. (File)

A shopkeeper and former NCP unit president in Gadchiroli’s Kurkheda taluka has emerged as a key figure in the conspiracy behind the Improvised Explosive Device (IED) explosion in which 15 Quick Response Team (QRT) commandos and their civilian driver were killed on May 1, investigation by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has revealed.

A chargesheet filed by the NIA on Thursday claimed that Kailash Ramchandani not only supplied the requisite hardware to create the explosive, but also relayed the location of the commandos to the Maoists who were waiting to detonate it.

An NIA official said that Ramchandani, who used to operate a hardware store in Kurkheda town, is a supporter of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist). “He supplied wires and other materials available in his shop that were used in making the bomb. The Maoists already had the explosives,” the official said.

On May 1, the 15 commandos and their driver Tomeshwar Singhnath died in an explosion on the Kurkheda-Purada Road, near Jambhukheda-Lendari village. In the chargesheet, filed in a special NIA court, the agency has identified Somsay Madavi, Sakaru Gota and Kishan Hidami — natives of Lavari village in Kurkheda taluka who were arrested in June — and wanted accused Satish, Durgesh, Mangesh, Prakash, Anil and Kishan as the people who had dug a hole in a culvert on the road in the intervening night of April 28 and 29, planted the explosive and waited for the arrival of the vehicle (a Tata Ace car) to detonate it.

The commandos were travelling to Dadapur village, 20 km away, where Maoists attacked a crew constructing a state highway and set 27 of their vehicles on fire, besides destroying their equipment.

On May 1 morning, after then Kurkheda sub-divisional police officer Shailesh Kale decided that it was safe, the commandos were dispatched from Kurkheda village in a private vehicle, the chargesheet states.

The NIA, in its chargesheet, accused Ramchandani of being the one to tip-off the Maoists about the location of the policemen, who had no choice but to take to Kurkheda-Purada Road to reach the site of the previous night’s attack.

“Ramchandani was waiting outside Kurkheda police station and made a phone call to the other accused, who were hiding in the jungle, and relayed to them what time the police vehicle departed from the police station and gave them its description,” the official said.

In addition, the chargesheet has also named senior Maoist leaders Narmada (58) and her husband Kiran (70) for planning the attack in order to avenge the killing of 40 Maoist cadre in an ambush by the Gadchiroli police in April 2018. They were arrested at a bus stand in Gadchiroli’s Sironcha taluka in June.

The chargesheet has invoked sections of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, the Explosive Substances Act and the Indian Penal Code against eight arrested accused and four wanted persons.