Friday, May 22, 2009

Among police personnel killed by Naxals are wives and mothers

Vevek Deshpande


In the thickly forested Gadchiroli district, they were no strangers to the dangerous ways of life. Even if they would have preferred to be only housewives, there wouldn’t have been any guarantee of peace and safety.

But that usually doesn’t prompt tribal women to join the police — a department that is most hated by the Naxals who have been active in this region for years. There are only 251 policewomen in Gadchiroli’s 2,500-strong police force. Little did the five policewomen, killed in a Naxal ambush in the district, know then that they would become the first women martyrs in the Red Corridor.

Shobha Tayade, Alka Gawade, Shakuntala Alam, Gendkunwar Faredia and Sunita Kallo, all tribals, were among 16 police personnel who died in the ambush.

On every such tragic occasion, the family enclosure at the gun salute function presents the familiar scene of widows wailing at the loss of their husbands. Today, while eleven widows of dead policemen wailed inconsolably, four husbands sobbed, trying hard to control their emotions.

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