Naxals, who set up a base in Maharashtra in the early 1980s, have killed as many as 493 civilians in the worst-hit Gadchiroli, Chandrapur and Gondia districts of the state over the last three decades, police said.
According to a release issued here by the anti-Naxal Cell of Maharashtra police, an overwhelming number of victims of Naxal violence were from Gadchiroli district alone (451). These civilians were killed between February 1985 and July 2014. The remaining victims were from Gondia (33) and Chandrapur (9), it said.
The ultras usually target those suspected to be police informers, as well as private contractors, 'sarpanchs' and other office-bearers of various local bodies like Zilla Parishads, government officials, among others, the release said yesterday. The civilian victims in these three districts included 206 suspected naxal informers, 188 ordinary citizens, 24 police patils, ten sarpanchs, five former 'police-patils' and 14 surrendered rebels.
Naxal activities first found ground in Maharashtra at Gadchiroli. The left-wing ultras entered Lankachen village of Sironcha tehsil by crossing the Godavari river from Andhra Pradesh and formed 'Sironcha dalam'.
According to police, 17 to 19 'dalams' of Naxals, comprising 260 cadres are at present active in the Gadchiroli district. Ten civilians have been killed by Naxals in Gadchiroli since Janaury this year, officials said, adding the recent encounters with police had depleted the ultras' strength to a considerable extent. The ultras, who crossed over to Maharashtra from Andhra Pradesh, are currently observing 'martyrs' week.