A pall of gloom hung in the air in Judumpara as a small crowd gathered at the home of Jaidev Yadav, an assistant police constable killed by the Maoists. Yadav was posted in the police station of Kutru in Bijapur district, part of the southern region of Chhattisgarh where armed tribal rebels belonging to the CPI Maoist have been engaged in a protracted war with government forces. On 13th July, along with his colleague Raju Telam, Yadav went to the district headquarters to collect his salary. In the evening, both the men boarded a bus to return to Kutru.
Mid-way, the bus was stopped by armed Maoist cadres, who singled out the two men and took them hostage. Two other assistant constables Rama Majji and Mangal Sodi, who were following the bus on their motorbike, were also taken into custody. Two days later, four bodies were found on the main Bijapur-Kutru road, bruised and riddled with bullet wounds. The killing of the four assistant constables has sent shockwaves through Judumpara, which is home to several police families. “Whenever they leave their base station to the district headquarters or other places, we always live in fear for their lives,” said Puja Kashyap. Her husband Timichand Kashyap is also posted at Kutru as an assistant constable. “Coincidentally my husband did not go to Bijapur with the rest that day, otherwise I would have been widowed as well,” she said.