Senior Maoist leader dies of COVID-19 in Chhattisgarh: Police

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Raipur/Hyderabad, Jun 23 (PTI) A senior Naxal leader, who was handling activities of the outlawed CPI (Maoist) along the Chhattisgarh-Telangana border and carrying a reward of Rs 40 lakh on his dead, has succumbed to COVID-19, the Chhattisgarh police said on Wednesday.

According to a senior official, police have confirmed inputs that Haribhushan, a Central Committee member and Secretary of the North Telangana State Special Zonal Committee of Maoists, died on June 21.

However, Maoists are yet to confirm his death.

“We had received information from certain quarters that a few senior Maoist cadres, including Haribhushan, were seriously ill after getting infected with coronavirus,” Inspector General of Police (Bastar range) Sundarraj P told PTI.

Haribhushan died on Monday (June 21) due to the infection somewhere near Minaguram-Bhattigudam-Jabagatta jungles along the Bijapur-Sukma inter-district border, he said, quoting reliable sources.

The Naxal leader, aged around 52, was known by the name 'Lakmu Dada' in Usur-Poojarikanker-Pamed area along the Chhattisgarh-Telangana border and was involved in more than 22 Maoist incidents in south Chhattisgarh, he said.

A native of Medagudam village of Mahabubnagar in Telangana, he carried a reward of over Rs 40 lakh on his head, the IG said, terming his death as a big blow to Maoists.

However, police in Telangana's Bhadradri-Kothagudem district, quoting information received by them, said Haribhushan died of a heart attack after testing positive for COVID-19.

The police, in a release, claimed his death was a major blow to the CPI (Maoist)'s activities in Telangana.

Top CPI (Maoist) leaders have to take responsibility for the deaths of Haribhushan and other leaders, including Nandu and Sobrai, which occurred due to unavailability of proper treatment, the release said.

The Maoist leadership is violating human rights by not allowing any of their cadres who want to leave the organisation to do so, the Telangana police said.

Meanwhile, IG Sundarraj claimed that the COVID-19 situation in Naxal camps in south Bastar is reported to be very alarming.

Over 16 senior and middle-rung cadres, including Dandakaranya Special Zonal Committee (DKSZC) members Ganga and Sobhroi, have died due to the infection in the last couple of months, the IPS officer said.

Several other cadres are also reported to be infected with coronavirus, he said.

The DKSZC handles Maoist activities in the Bastar region that comprises seven districts of Chhattisgarh.

Citing spread of the infection among Naxal cadres, the IG appealed to local villagers to keep themselves away from them.

Sundarraj also appealed to ailing Maoists to surrender before the Chhattisgarh authorities to avail better medical facilities. PTI TKP SJR APR RSY RSY

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