Gadchiroli (Maharashtra): The body of another woman Maoist was found in the forests of Kasnasur in this Maharashtra district, four days after she was shot in an operation by security forces on Sunday, taking the total toll to 38, an official said here on Wednesday.
Security officials suspect she may have tried to escape the volley of bullets fired by the commandos, or may have been dragged some distance away by her associates before she succumbed to her injuries or they abandoned her.
As many as 20 women and 18 men Maoists were gunned down in the twin-operations on Sunday morning and Monday evening in Gadchiroli, considered the worst Maoist-affected district in the country.
Search efforts, deploying technology and gadgets, continue even in the Indravati River from where 15 bullet-ridden Maoists were fished out on Monday-Tuesday, with the waters reportedly infested with crocodiles, snakes and other deadly creatures.
The successful operations came after the security forces landed an accurate tip-off well in advance about a proposed jungle meeting of around four dozen Maoists scheduled on Sunday morning and the exact venue - catching the rebels virtually by surprise and little time to hit back.
However, there are conflicting reports of the purpose of the meeting, including a marriage celebration or to plan out some major offensive, but officials remain tightlipped.
The operation - the biggest in the anti-Maoist war since the past over 38 years - saw the elimination of at least four prominent commanders, and dealt a body blow to their rebellious activities in the district.
The prominent leaders eliminated include: south region chief Srikant alias Ravtu Vijendra, 50, known as Srinu, besides the commanders of the Aheri, Gatta and Permili dalams (Maoist fighter units), including a woman chief, a deputy commander and prominent members of various groups.
The dalam commanders have been identified as: Dolesh Madi Atram alias Sainath (Permili), Mangli Pada alias Shantabai, 31, (Aheri), the wife of Srinu (above), Naresh Kutke Yeladi alias Raju/Ramesh, 29, (Gatta), and Vasudevo Bichha Atram alias Nandu, who is the Aheri dalam's DVC (killed in the Monday night battle).
Police officials surmise that the Aheri and Sironcha dalams have been totally wiped out in the two-day operations which claimed four out of five of their top leaders.
Police have also recovered a cache of sophisticated arms and ammunition, including two AK-47s, two INSAS, three SLRs, three .303s, a 58-mm gun, eight 12 bore rifles, a musket, and detonators, besides Maoist literature from these two operations.