Former MP and founder of Salwa Judum in Chhattisgarh, Mahendra Karma, had a narrow escape on Thursday when Naxals blew up his bullet-proof vehicle after triggering a landmine blast at Bhogam, about 20 kms from Dantewada district headquarters.
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh strongly condemned the attack, describing it as most unfortunate and cowardly act of Maoists.
A tribal leader from Bastar, Mahendra is on the hit list of naxals for strongly advocating Salwa Judum (Civil Vigilante group) and raising an armed tribal group to fight ultras. A state official said that considering the high level of threat, Mahendra was provided with ‘Z plus’ security. “His convoy, comprising seven similar looking vehicles, was on the way to Basrur where Karma was supposed to attend a party meeting. Ultras had accurate intelligence input regarding his SUV and IED was triggered targeting his vehicle only. After the blast, Maoists opened indiscriminate firing. His driver and two commandos travelling in the SUV sustained minor injuries and were rushed to Dantewada for medical examination,” the official said.
Mahendra and his family members have been repeatedly targeted by ultras. He himself survived over a dozen attacks in the last seven years. In 2005, approximately 200 armed naxals killed Suku Karma, brother of Mahendra, in Dantewada.
In another attack in 2009, ultra’s quick action group killed Cahnnu Karma, his close relative. Though the controversial group was disbanded by the Supreme Court in 2011, Karma remained a target of Naxal groups.
The Centre had opposed disbanding of 5,000-strong Salwa Judum armed activist group describing it as a spontaneous revolt of the harassed tribals against naxals.