Chhattisgarh Congress leader Mahendra Karma, who is credited with founding the anti-Maoist movement Salwa Judum died in a Maoist Attack today.
Reportedly, senior Congress leaders Vidya Charan Shukla and Kawasi Lakma were also shot at by Naxals during the attack in Jagdalpur district of Chhattisgarh.
According to reports, bombs were also used by Naxals during the attack. The Chhattisgarh Police said that they were not in a position to say anything about the security lapse as they were yet to get necessary information on the attack.
Though the Chhattisgarh government is yet to respond to the attack, police confirmed that Congress leaders were targeted by Naxals.
Reacting to the incident, Chhattisgarh Congress media cell president Shailesh Trivedi alleged that ruling BJP government did not provide adequate security to the 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.
Trivedi said he was trying to contact the party leaders who were part of the Yatra but was unable to do so as the incident occurred in forested area.
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh has called for an emergency meeting after the attack.
Unconfirmed reports said that a former Congress legislator Uday Mudaliyar was also killed in the ambush while senior Congress leader and former union minister VC Shukla, Sukma’s Congress legislator Kawasai Lakma were among the critically injured. There is no confirmation about reports that Chhattisgarh state Congress president Nanndkumar Patel and his close family members were missing and were probably abducted by the rebels.
“Karmaji is no more. We don’t have any more details”, Karma’s close family members told TOI over telephone. However, police and civil officials neither confirmed nor denied reports about heavy causalities in the Maoist ambush.
Senior Congress leaders were on their way to Keshloor from Sukma after attending a parivartan yatra meeting at Sukma when a group of about 150 armed Maoists resorted indiscriminate firing and triggered a powerful blast targeting their convoy. Preliminary reports said a local Congress leader Gopi Madwani was killed.
“We are waiting for confirmation about these reports. I don’t have any details”, state Congress media cell in charge Shailesh Nitin Trivedi said.
An official spokesman said chief minister Raman Singh has cancelled his Vikas Yatra and is returning to the state capital where he is expected to hold a high level meeting to take stock of the situation.
Unconfirmed reports said Karma, who was prominently known as Bastar tiger, was initially kidnapped for identification and then they pumped 20 bullets after beating him on his head with the gun’s butt. There was a cross firing between Karma’s guards and Naxalites but when the guards ran out of bullets, Karma surrendered along with few other Congress leaders.
Former MLA Konta, Kawasi Lakhma is said to be safe and admitted to the hospital. He got injured during the firing when the glass of his vehicle’s windowpane broke down.
Karma, who had spearheaded the controversial anti-Naxalite movement Salwa Judum which began in June 2005, was already on the Maoist hit- list and he had survived several attempts on his life. It is said that more than 150 Naxalites were there firing indiscriminately
In the Past On 8 November 2012, Karma survived an assassination attempt by Naxalite insurgents, when the landmine blast targeting his motorcade as it passed through a forest in Dantewada district failed to kill him. Karma escaped unscathed, while his driver and two security guards were injured