SARKEPALLI (ADILABAD): The encounter site amid tall bamboo plants and covered with boulders and stones at Sarkepalli village in Jogapur forests in Wankhidi mandal hardly resembled a place where an alleged exchange of fire took place for three hours in the late hours of Thursday. Curiously enough, none in the surrounding villages heard any gunshots being fired in the still of the night.
“We did not hear any sound of firing between 10 pm and 2 am,” a villager said. Though the district police chief claimed there were 20-25 persons on each side exchanging fire, not a single policeman was injured. Local people said SIB personnel entered the village around 8 pm. Raising doubts, surrendered woman naxal Kavitakka said a top leader like Azad is always surrounded by a security ring of 60-70 Maoist cadre.
Insiders allege Azad was picked up from Nagpur on Thursday morning and later taken to an undisclosed destination where he was interrogated.
“Initially, he was to be taken to Karimnagar. But because of heavy rain, SIB sleuths changed plans and moved towards Adilabad Jogapur forests,” sources said. The travel time from Nagpur to Jogapur village is around 5 hours, it is learnt.
“Azad was bumped off in cold blood. He was unarmed,” Katta Ramachandra Reddy alias Gudsa Usendi, spokesman of Dandakaranya SZC, said. He said the Maoist party would regroup soon.
“The void cannot be filled easily. Though it is a huge loss for us, Union home minister P Chidamabaram cannot destroy us with these fake encounters,” he said on phone. He said they lost contact with Azad around 10.30 am on Thursday. Azad was to meet a courier in Nagpur and then head towards Dandakaranya when he was allegedly picked up by SIB sleuths.