Gadchiroli terror: "They surrounded us from all sides"

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Gadchiroli:  The 18 men who died in the line of duty in Gadchiroli are being honoured on Friday with a special ceremony at the place where they were ambushed by Naxals.

The attack is the biggest by Naxals ever in Maharashtra. Bhamragarh lies deep in the jungles of Gadchiroli in North Eastern Maharashtra. Inaccessible, hostile, and now more notorious than ever.

On Thursday, a  team of 40 policemen was patrolling the area near Laheri village. They suddenly found themselves confronting more than 200 Naxals. Grossly outnumbered, nevertheless the police put up a brave fight hours. Eighteen policemen died, 22 survived the attack.

Among them, Rajendra Shyam, who speaks to NDTV from the hospital bed where he is recovering. "They were fully prepared and had lots of weapons...they had surrounded us from all sides," he says.

The Maharashtra government says the Naxals involved crossed into the state from Chhattisgarh.

"They cannot be called humans as they have become merciless. The government will be hard of them and investigations are on," comments the angry Maharashtra Home Minister, Nitin Raut.

Maharashtra votes early next week. The Maoists have called for a boycott of the election. In recent days, they  have unleashed a series of attacks on local police and the anti-Naxal force, which culminated in Thursday's massacre.

The Naxals have been indulging in more extreme violence since the  arrest last month  of Maoist leader Kobad Gandhy.

Now the Border Security Force is being used in this area for protection.

Rajendra Shyam, the constable who survived the Gadchiroli attack, says he knows exactly what he has to do next.  "I will get stronger, and go back to fighting the Naxals."

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