Woman known for beauty, terror led Gadchiroli Naxal attack

Gadchiroli ambush
The ambush in which 17 policemen were killed in Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra last Thursday was led by a woman known not just for her commitment to the "Naxalite cause" but also her beauty. Tarakka is believed to have so captivated CPI (Maoist) Central Committee member Bhupathi that he proposed to her after a meeting in 1989, and the two got married.

A tribal from Kishtapur village in Aheri tehsil, 42-year-old Bimala Chandra Sidam alias Tarakka has earned a place in the regional Naxal hierarchy by leading audacious attacks on the police, such as the one on October 8 under the Laheri police station area of Gadchiroli. With no formal education, she started as a Naxal in 1985 to rise to the position of member of the South Gadchiroli Divisional Committee three years ago.

In fact, Tarakka is one of the many women Naxal cadres now leading dalams in Gadchiroli and the area the Naxals call Dandakaranya. Police believe about 40 per cent of dalam cadres are women.

Other women Naxal commanders in Gadchiroli include Jyoti (Tipagadh), Raneeta (Chatgaon), Sujita (Deori) and Ranjita (Surjagarh). Saroja, who was commander of the Jimalgatta dalam, was arrested last year. Her husband Lanka Papi Reddy, who was a Central Committee member, later surrendered before Warangal police in Andhra Pradesh. Radhakka, a senior Naxal working in Bastar for many years, hails from Rajaram Khanla village in south Gadchiroli.

Tarakka's own division is headed by Narmada, a 52-year-old from Andhra Pradesh said to be fluent in seven languages including English. Due to health problems, she no longer takes part in attacks.

Tarakka's first photograph was found during a raid in Nagpur's Hivri Nagar area in 1992 where two Naxals, Amar and Sudershan (son-in-law of Naxal ideologue Varavara Rao), had holed up.

She is believed to have commandeered the Aheri, Perimili and Bhamragarh dalams, planning and executing many attacks. Police suspect her hand in the 1991 Tadgaon blast near Bhamragarh in which 10 State Reserve Police personnel died and believe she masterminded the 1994 landmine blast near her native village that killed five policemen. In 2003, four policemen died in a blast allegedly masterminded by Tarakka.

Of late, she is believed to have been working with company dalam commander Giridhar. It is 38-year-old Giridhar who is believed to be the man behind recent Naxal successes, including the Markegaon ambush that claimed the lives of 15 policemen in February, the Mungner ambush that killed three policemen in March and the Hattigota (Murumgaon) ambush where 16, including five women constables, lost their lives in May.

Tarakka and Giridhar, say police, masterminded last Thursday's attack too.

Please read our terms of use before posting comments
TERMS OF USE: The views expressed in comments published on indianexpress.com are those of the comment writer's alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of The Indian Express Group or its staff. Comments are automatically posted live; however, indianexpress.com reserves the right to take it down at any time. We also reserve the right not to publish comments that are abusive, obscene, inflammatory, derogatory or defamatory.