Less than 48 hours before the first phase of the Lok Sabha elections in Bastar region in Chhattisgarh, five people, including BJP MLA Bhima Mandavi, his driver, and three security personnel were killed on Tuesday when their convoy was attacked by Naxalites in Dantewada district. Dantewada falls in the Bastar Lok Sabha seat which will go to polls in the first phase on April 11.
P Sundar Raj, DIG, Naxal operations, said that the MLA’s vehicle came in the ambit of the IED blast that left a huge crater on the site of the attack. Security forces have been rushed to the area. Special DG (Anti-Naxal Ops) DM Awasthi said Bachheli PS Incharge had informed the BJP MLA that adequate security was not present on the route near Kuakonda and that he should not go there.
An Improvised Explosive Device (IED) was used by the Naxals in the attack that took place between Kuakonta and Shyamgiri hills. BJP MLA Bheema Mandavi was returning from campaigning when the escort vehicle of the state police was targetted with the IED. The MLA’s convoy was heading towards Kuwakonda from Bacheli area, which is about 450 km from state capital Raipur when the Naxalites blew up a vehicle in the convoy and opened fire at the occupants.
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel has called a high-level meeting in Raipur.
Condemning the attack, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said sacrifices 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 said.
Paying condolences to the family of Mandavi, Modi said he “was a dedicated Karyakarta of the BJP. Diligent and courageous, he assiduously served the people of Chhattisgarh.”
Congress president Rahul Gandhi also condemned the attack. In a tweet, Gandhi said he prays that the deceased rest in peace.
Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel said the Congress party understands the grief of people as it had also been the victim and had lost a “generation of their leaders in a Naxal attack.”
The attack is reminiscent of a similar incident that took place in the Naxal hotbed of Bastar ahead of the assembly elections in May 2013. Twenty-seven people, including senior Congress leader Mahendra Karma and former Union minister V C Shukla, were killed in the ambush. Before the assembly elections in November last year, a CISF personnel and three civilians were killed in Dantewada when an improvised explosive device planted by Naxalites tore through a bus.