Around 100 Maoists may be COVID-19 positive, says Dantewada district police chief; promises treatment if they surrender

Published : May 11, 2021 22:04 IST

“We have reliable information, both from our sources and from reports in the local media that many Maoists leaders and their cadres have been infected by the COVID-19 virus,” Abhishek Pallav, Superintendent of Police, Dantewada district, in Chhattisgarh told Frontline. “We can only say how many are COVID-19 positive if they are tested. And they won’t come forward to be tested,” he added. He put the number of Maoists infected at around 100.

Maoists on either side of the Telangana-Chhattisgarh border are said to have taken ill with COVID-19. The Maoists are allegedly seeking medical attention surreptitiously from doctors at the Ganglur forest area of Chhattishgarh as well as in villages under Dantewada, Sukma and Bijapur districts which lie on the Telangana-Chhattisgarh border.

Government officials indicated that unlike in the first wave, the second wave of the virus has spread to the rural countryside. Said Pallav: “If they are indeed ill with the COVID-19 infection, they are not only putting their lives at risk by not getting treated, but they are also causing potential harm to villagers by spreading the infection. I appeal to them to surrender and get treated.”

According to Pallav, the State government would provide free treatment to Maoists who surrendered. Stating that indications were that the Maoists were buying a lot of medicines, the police officer added that numerous police sources also confirmed that several of the Maoist cadre were also suffering from food poising after consuming stale food. Said Pallav: “From many quarters and from credible sources, we have sourced plenty of reliable information that the top Maoist leadership is suffering from food poisoning and COVID-19 related infections. Leaders, including Sujata, a member of Dandakaranya Special Zonal Committee (DKSZC), who has a bounty of Rs.25 lakh; Jayalal and Dinesh, on whom there are rewards of Rs.10 lakh each; and Rajesh and Venkatesh, are suffering from COVID-19. We have got to know that Sujata is having breathing difficulties and is unable to move.”

The fact that the Maoists leadership has not denied the reports of COVID-19 rampaging through their ranks is, according to the police, indication enough that it is true.

Pallav and other police officials refute allegations that they have cut medical supplies to the villages where the Maoists are suspected to be holed up.

On May 9, Sunil Dutt, Superintendent of Police, Bhadradri Kothagudem, in a press statement also appealed to the Maoists to surrender to get better medical treatment.

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor