Gariaband: Naxals set on fire tendu leaves stock worth around Rs 9 crore kept in a godown of the forest department in Chhattisgarh’s Gariaband district, an official said Wednesday.
The incident took place late Tuesday night in Nawamuda village, located around 150 km from the state capital Raipur, divisional forest officer J R Bhagat said.
Tendu leaves are used for making ‘bidis’ (leaf-wrapped cigarettes).
As per preliminary information, over a dozen armed Naxals, including women, reached the village where the forest department has three godowns for stocking the tendu leaves, he said.
After holding hostage three guards at the premises, the rebels stormed into one of the godowns after breaking its locks, where 1,700 sacks of tendu leaves worth Rs nine crore were kept, he said.
The ultras set on fire the entire stock, belonging to a contractor, and escaped from the spot after locking the guards in a room there, Bhagat said, adding that the godown was completely gutted.
On getting information about the incident, forest and police personnel rushed to the spot and informed the fire brigade officials.
Efforts were still on to douse the flames, he added.
Naxals left behind a pamphlet alleging that the villagers were not getting full payment for tendu leaves collection and therefore, the stock was burnt, a local police official said.
A search operation was underway to trace those involved in the incident, he added.