RAIPUR: Barely half an hour after the campaigning ended in the conflict zone of Bastar, the outlawed CPI (Maoist) triggered a powerful Improvised Explosive Device (IED) killing a BJP MLA and five police personnel accompanying him near Kuakonda in Dantewada, about 450 km south of Raipur on Tuesday.
The BJP legislator Bheema Mandavi (42 )was returning after holding a public rally at Kirandul in Dantewada when the Naxalites targeted his convoy on the Kuakonda-Bacheli route and his bulletproof vehicle was tossed up in the air following the IED blast.
The Bastar Lok Sabha constituency is among the 91 seats, spread across 20 states, where the first phase polling will be held on April 11.
Mandavi's bulletproof vehicle was tossed-up in the air following the IED blast that created a 5-feet deep crater-like structure on the road. The ill-fated vehicle was split into three pieces, killing all passengers on the spot.
The spot is barely 4 km away from Kuakonda police station.
“It’s unfortunate incident. BJP legislator Bheema Mandavi and four district police personnel (including driver) were killed in the blast detonated by the Naxalites. The MLA who travelled this track a day before was advised by the local Bacheli police station not to take this route again as no road opening party (ROP) was deployed ahead of his trip on the hypersensitive route. But he ignored an advisory and took the risk.
Going by the impact it appears the rebels must have planted at least a 50 kg IED explosive”, the Dantewada superintendent of police Abhishek Pallava said.
This is fourth Maoist-related incidents within a span of one week in Chhattisgarh. The incident suggests a better local intelligence network of the Maoists than the police who apparently failed to pick-up an input about the possible attack on the elected representative. Mandavi changed his plan at the eleventh
hour to take the risky route as he also stopped along the way to attend a local fair before proceeding on his way to Nakulnar. This information is believed to have reached the Maoists who got time to easily targeted his vehicle.
He was the only BJP MLA from 12 assembly seats of Bastar.
Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel condemned the attack expressed shock over the death of
BJP leader calling the incident as dastardly act. He convened a high-level meeting at the CM House to review the situation. However, the BJP criticised the new Congress government over lacking an effective vision to curb the Maoist menace.
“Bastar has again turned unsafe. The attack is a political conspiracy. What could be the biggest failure for the 100-day old Congress regime”, the former chief minister Raman Singh said. The Maoists had given a call for poll boycott and were nailing banners-posters, throwing pamphlets in interior areas of
various districts asking the people not to exercise their franchise.
The Election Commission and the Bastar police however calling the incident as
“unfortunate” claimed that all security-related preparedness have been accomplished to conduct free, peaceful and credible polling in the region. As many as 289 polling booths were recently re-located owing to threat perception.
“We will review the security situations and take every necessary action required for peaceful polling at every polling booth”, Chhattisgarh chief electoral officer Subrat Sahoo said.
The immediate concern is the apprehension likely to be felt by the polling staff who were air-lifted to inhospitable hypersensitive Naxal-affected areas forconductingg polling on Thursday, even as a big
question is being raised over the lack of timely intelligence inputs by the police ahead of the attack.
Dantewada is among the seven worst Maoist-affected districts in the strife-torn Bastar zone.