Gadchiroli: Most of the 17 policemen killed in Maharashtra's worst ever Naxal attack were tribals. Ironically these are the very people who the Naxals claim to protect.
Navegaon lost three of its men on Thursday, who were felled by Naxal bullets. Amongst the aggrieved, is 18 year old Vanita. She lost her husband Dhananjay Dhote in the attack. From the poor Kunbi caste, he had joined the force four years ago along with two of his brothers. Grieving women ask if anyone will ever be able to bring him back.
Not too far, the family of Prakash Basanvar is mourning too. A tribal, he was one of the ten commandos shot dead. His daughter is still unaware of her father's death.
As a mark of protest Gadchiroli was shut for a day. But locals were quite outspoken about their thoughts on the growing Naxal terror. The panwala says, "Naxal ideology is just terror, it is never going to work," while another woman adds that Naxals do nothing to help the poor. A young man sums it up, "Most Naxals are tribals and they are poor. Here the poor are fighting the poor."
The Naxal extremist movement is now coloured with irony. Though the Naxals claim to speak for the poor, they have killed poor villagers from the police force, most of them tribals and adivasis. As a result there is a growing anger against them in this belt.