Major Maoist attack, senior Congress leaders killed, kidnapped

Last Updated 25 May 2013, 18:08 IST

Striking in a big way, heavily-armed Maoists today shot dead senior Congress leader Mahendra Karma and injured former union minister V C Shukla who is said to be critical having sustained three bullets in an ambush in a dense forest in Chhattisgarh's Jagdalpur district.

The Maoists also kidnapped PCC chief Nand Kumar Patel and his son Dinesh after attacking a convoy of Congress leaders in Darba Gati Valley, police said.
A former Congress MLA from Rajnandgaon Udya Mudaliyar was also shot dead and prominent woman tribal leader Phulo Devi Netam, Bastar, wounded by the Maoists who attacked the convoy at around 1730 hours when they were returning from the party's "Parivartan" rally.

There were unconfirmed reports of some policemen and other Congress acitivists being killed in the attack.

Karma, a former Home Minister who was a guiding force behind "Salwa Judum" (anti-Naxal operation by vigilante groups), was surrounded by about 100 to 150 Maoists who peppered his body with bullets.

The Maoists had put up road blocks by felling trees before triggering a landmine blast that hit one of the vehicles in the convoy and opening fire, police sources said.
After carrying out the attack, the ultras set nearby trees on fire.

The Personal Security Officers of the Congress leaders returned the fire but soon ran out of bullets becoming sitting ducks.

The Maoist attack took place in a dense forest near National Highway 202 connecting Chattisgarh with Naxal-hit Bhadrachalam district in adjacent Andhra Pradesh.

Opposition Congress' Parivartan Yatra, comprising senior party leaders, had launched Parivartan Yatra on April 12 in the state where Assembly elections are due by year end.

Chhattisgarh Congress media cell president Shailesh Trivedi said it was matter of investigation whether Naxals were involved in the attack. He alleged the state's BJP government did not provide adequate security to Congress' Yatra despite opposition from Naxals.

"Naxals have opposed both BJP's Vikas Yatra and Congress' Parivartan Yatra. However, the state government provided security only to BJP's Yatra and not to the one organised by Congress. Had it been provided security, today's incident would not have happened," he said.

Soon after the attack, Congress activists came out on the streets and staged demonstrations in several districts of the state condemning the Maoist attack.
Chief Minister Raman Singh convened an emergency meeting of the cabinet to discuss the situation arising out of the Maoist ambush and the fate of the kidnapped PCC chief and his son.

In New Delhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh held a meeting with Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and party Vice President Rahul Gandhi to discuss the situation in the state following the major attack.

Singh spoke to Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh and enquired if the state needed additional forces to cope with the Maoists and to launch a combing operation.

The Union Home Ministry said it was rushing additional paramilitary personnel to the state to launch an anti-Maoist combing operation.

(Published 25 May 2013, 15:38 IST)

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