Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada SP says the police have confirmed information that 10 Maoists have died in the last fortnight due to reasons linked to coronavirus disease

Dantewada SP Abhishek Pallava said Maoists who may have contracted the Covid infection were continuing to interact with villagers, mounting concerns that the infection could spread in villages deep inside the Bastar forest

Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada police chief on Tuesday renewed the state’s appeal to Maoist cadres to surrender, saying 10 Maoists had died in south Bastar over the last fortnight, possibly due to Covid-19. There has been no statement from the Maoists on the 10 deaths claimed by the police but they have not rebutted the state police either.

Dantewada superintendent of police Abhishek Pallava said the administration was worried that the infection could spread to villagers living deep inside the dense forests that cover 70% of the district.

“Maoists are still in contact with villagers and holding meetings. hence it is worrying , if they are infected, they should surrender and avail treatment. Police will take care of their treatment,” said Pallava.

Pallava said villagers had confirmed to the police that many Maoist cadres have cold, cough and fever, symptoms of the coronavirus disease and some senior colleagues are trying to arrange medicines and vaccines against the infection.

The district police chief said there were intelligence reports that indicate some senior Maoist leaders in Chhattisgarh had also contracted the infection.

“We have confirmed information that around 15 days ago, around 400-500 Maoists gathered in Pidia village close to the Bijapur-Sukma district border,” Pallava said, adding that the cadres who were unwell were reported to have consumed expired medicines. This event is being linked to the spread of the disease and was followed by cremation of 10 Maoists.