Chaibasa (West Singhbhum), Dec 22: The policemen here won’t forget her in a hurry.
She had led the 100-odd suspected Maoist Communist Centre guerrillas during Thursday’s ambush in Saranda forests that killed 16 people, including 13 policemen.
The policemen who escaped can’t get over the shock of seeing a woman spearhead a pitched gun battle.
The mysterious woman keeps cropping up in their conversation. The policemen believe that she is a member of the MCC core group as an operation of this scale would not have been assigned to a lower-rung leader.
“She was a young, lanky, dark girl with sharp features,” said a member of the raiding party who managed to escape the onslaught. Initial reports had said the commander was an elderly woman. “Her long hair was tightly tied back. She was carrying a rifle. From a distance, it looked like an AK-47 or an AK-56,” he said.
No sooner had the landmines exploded, she barked orders to her squad to take up positions,” he said. “‘Kill the police’, she screamed in Hindi as she ran into the dense bushes.” That was the last the policeman saw of her.
“She was the only one of that group whose voice we could hear,” another policeman said. “Others were following her orders.”
“As far as I could remember, the woman was firing at us and simultaneously coordinating her members’ actions on three sides,” the policeman said.
The policeman said he felt that she was not a “local girl”. He said he saw two or three bags “full of petrol bombs and grenades” beside the woman.
“She was not visible after she hid herself in the bushes. But I could partially see the bags. Some time later, even the bags could not be seen,” he said. “Perhaps she pulled the bags closer to her so she could lob them easily.”
Senior police officers believe that most members of the hit-squad were from the MCC’s “red brigade”, which is responsible for executing armed operations.