Naxal ‘commander’ dies of suspected COVID-19 in Chhattisgarh: Cops

Dantewada, October 4

A self-styled Naxal “commander” has died due to possible coronavirus infection here, the Dantewada Police said Sunday, raising fears of the deadly virus spreading in the remote areas of Chhattisgarh which lack proper health infrastructure.

Dantewada Superintendent of Police Abhishek Pallava said as per preliminary information, Madkam Ramesh alias Gonche Ramesh (50), a member of the Kerlapal area committee of the outlawed group, was showing symptoms of the infection and died Saturday evening.

He was active along the border of Dantewada and Sukma districts, Pallava said.

“He was reportedly suffering from fever and breathlessness following which he was shifted by the ultras from Kerlapal to his native Jagargunda in Sukma where he succumbed. His body was handed over to his family for cremation,” the SP told PTI. 

“According to villagers, he was showing symptoms of COVID-19 though inputs suggest he was not tested for it. Any sudden death with fever and breathlessness is deemed to be a suspected COVID-19 death till tests are done,” Pallava said.

Ramesh was heading a local organisation squad of the Maoists as “commander” and had a reward of Rs 5 lakh on his head, he said.

Expressing concern over the possible spread of COVID-19 in the interior areas of Bastar division due to Maoist activities, Pallava said Naxals were not following norms in place for the pandemic and were moving about without masks and convening meetings of villagers ignoring social distancing.

“Negligence on the part of Naxals could cause the infection to spread across the interiors of Bastar region, which lack proper health infrastructure,” the SP said.

As on Saturday, Bastar division, comprising seven districts including Dantewada, has 15,081 COVID-19 cases, while 60 have died due to the infection. — PTI

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