Raipur: A BJP MLA and four security personnel were killed in Chhattisgarh on Tuesday as Maoists blew up their vehicle, two days before polling for the first phase of Lok Sabha elections in the state, police said.
MLA Bheema Mandavi, 40, and others were killed around 4 pm — just one hour before the end of campaigning for the first phase of election — when their convoy was passing through Kuakonda in Chhattisgarh’s south Bastar district of Dantewada, police said.
Visuals from the improvised explosive device (IED) blast site showed mangled remains of the MLA’s bullet-proof vehicle and a seven-feet crater on the road on which it passed before Maoists blew it up.
The attack is being seen as a clear warning by Maoists to boycott the three-phase voting for Lok Sabha polls in the state on April 11, 18 and 23.
Those killed in the incident were identified as driver Danteshwar Maurya and district force jawans Chhagan Kuldeep, Somdu Kawasi and Ramlal Oyami, police said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi “strongly” condemned the attack, 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 gory incident bore uncanny similarity to the deadly attack on a Congress convoy at Jeeram Ghati in Bastar district on May 25, 2013, in which 27 Congress leaders including former Union minister V.C. Shukla, Chhattisgarh Congress president Nand Kumar Patel, his son Dinesh and former minister and founder of anti-Naxal civil vigilante force Salwa Judum, Mahendra Karma were killed.
The Congress convoy was also attacked on the last day of campaigning before the 2013 Assembly elections in Chhattisgarh.
Questions were raised as to why the legislator was not given adequate security cover.
After Tuesday’s incident, deputy inspector general of police (anti-Naxal operation) P. Sunderraj said, “The BJP MLA, three security personnel accompanying him and the driver of the vehicle were killed in the Naxal attack.”
“The BJP MLA was going to Nakulnar after addressing an election meeting at Bacheli in his bullet proof car along with his PSOs when Maoists triggered the IED blast,” said a senior police officer.
“Bodies of the victims were seen strewn around 50 meter from blast site,” said an eyewitness.
Maoists had warned the locals not to vote in the election — posters carrying their message dot the area. In view of the lack of adequate security on the route, police had asked the BJP lawmaker against undertaking the journey but he ignored the warning.
Questions were raised as to why the legislator was not given adequate security cover. “We smell a conspiracy in the incident and demand a CBI probe,” said BJP national general secretary in-charge of Chhattisgarh Anil Jain. Congress described it as an “unfortunate” incident....