BJP MLA, 4 securitymen killed in Naxal attack

PTI

Raipur

A BJP MLA and four security personnel were killed in Chhattisgarh on Tuesday as Naxals blew up their vehicle, two days before polling for the first phase of Lok Sabha elections is held in the state, the police said.

MLA Bheema Mandavi and the four others were killed as Naxals targeted a group of BJP leaders travelling in a convoy in Dantewada district, the police said.

Visuals from the blast site showed the mangled remains of the vehicle and a gaping hole on the road on which it passed before Naxals blew it up.

Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel spoke to the DG anti-Naxal operations, an official said.

Former Chhattisgarh chief minister  Raman Singh said, “I am in

contact with central ministers and spoke to PM Narendra Modi an hour ago. I will go to Dantewada and meet families of the deceased.”

The incident occurred at Shyamagiri hills when the MLA’s convoy was heading towards Kuwakonda from Bacheli area, about 450 km from state capital Raipur.

The convoy was travelling between Kuakonta and Shyamgiri in Dantewada when it was targeted by the Naxals.

The Naxals blew up a vehicle in the convoy with an IED and opened fire at the occupants.

Mandavi was killed in the attack, P Sundar Raj, DIG anti-Naxal operations, said. The four security personnel were also killed in the attack.

The killed security personnel have been identified as driver Danteshwar Maurya and district force jawans Chhagan Kuldeep, Somdu Kawasi and Ramlal Oyami.

Security forces have been rushed to the area.

TV channels flashed grisly images of body parts strewn along a road bisecting a forest and a vehicle reduced to a heap of metal. The powerful blast left a big crater in the middle of the road.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh tweeted: “I spoke to Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Shri @bhupeshbaghel regarding the IED attack in Dantewada and expressed my grief over the martyrdom of state police personnel. He has also apprised me of the ground situation in Dantewada.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi “strongly” condemned the Naxal attack in Chhattisgarh, saying the sacrifice of those killed will not go in vain.

“Strongly condemn the Maoist attack in Chhattisgarh. My tributes to the security personnel who were martyred. The sacrifices of these martyrs will not go in vain,” he tweeted.

The Congress condemned the Naxal attack, with party president Rahul Gandhi terming it a “very tragic” incident.

Meanwhile, the Election Commission said polling in the state will be held as per the schedule.

The chief electoral officer, Chhattisgarh, held a video conference meeting of collectors and SPs of the affected districts covering Phase 1 and phase 2 in Chhattisgarh and instructed them to take “utmost precautions” over the next few days.