Two days after the Gadchiroli police arrested Delhi University professor G N Saibaba for alleged Maoist links, Naxalites triggered a powerful landmine blast on Sunday in an unlikely area of the district, killing seven policemen and leaving two grievously injured.
“The blast happened between 9 and 10 am when a police vehicle passing by Murmuri village of the district was hit by a powerful IED,” IGP (Nagpur Range) Ravindra Kadam said.
While seven died on the spot, the two injured policemen were flown to Nagpur by a chopper.
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The police vehicle was part of a convoy of eight, carrying 48 personnel, returning from a routine anti-Naxal operation in Kasansur. Two vehicles had passed over the spot when the landmine went off.
A CPI (Maoist) statement admitted responsibility, but said the attack had “nothing to do with the arrest of Saibaba”. A man claiming to be comrade Shrinivas, “the CPI (Maoist) PRO” , called up The Indian Express to give their “statement”.
Asked about Saibaba’s arrest, Shrinivas said, “Everyone knows he is a professor in Delhi, he is not a Maoist party member. His arrest is an example of janata ka daman (suppression of people) by the government.”
Shrinivas said Sunday’s attack was against the government, for “targeting innocent people”. “The arrest of G N Saibaba is a similar one.”
Saibaba was remanded in magisterial custody for 14 days by a Gadchiroli court on Saturday.
On Sunday, Naxals struck at a spot in the plains, with no forests along the road. They rarely conduct attacks in such open area. IGP Kadam admitted that they were surprised as “no Naxal activity was known previously” at the attack site.
He also added that it was too early to link the attack to Saibaba’s arrest.