Raipur, May 17
Maoists today blew up a passenger bus killing at least 36 persons, including 12 Special Police Officers (SPOs), in Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh, the attack their second in six weeks.
The Naxals attacked the bus carrying passengers from Gadiras to Bhusaras in Dantewada district, nearly 400 km from here, using improvised explosive device (IED) at around 4.45 pm, officials said. The SPOs, who are civilians assisting police in fighting the Naxals, were attached to Dantewada police, they said.
The IED was planted on a metalled road and detonated by the Left-Wing Extremists using a remote-control device. The attack came a day before the Maoists’ call for a 48-hour bandh in five states, including Chhattisgarh, from tomorrow in protest against the security operations launched against them by the Centre.
The Union Home Ministry has condemned the attack and said most of the killed were civilians. An MHA spokesman said no CRPF personnel was traveling in the bus. On April 6, too, Naxals had killed 76 security personnel in Mukrana forests of Dantewada district in one of the deadliest attacks carried out by them. On May 8, seven CRPF jawans were killed when Naxals blew up a bulletproof vehicle in Bijapur district.
BJP, which is in power in Chhattisgarh, has condemned today’s attack and demanded that the menace of Naxalism should be fought with full strength and vigour.
PC: Need to revisit Maoist policy
Condemning the Leftist guerrilla attack on a civilian bus in Chhattisgarh, Union Home Minister P Chidambaram said on Monday he was following a “limited mandate” and that the government would need to revisit the anti-Maoist policy.
“I am implementing the cabinet's limited mandate. We will need to go back to the cabinet and revisit the mandate,” Chidambaram told a news channel in an interview. The Home Minister said he and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh were on the same page about how to tackle the menace. “I was with the PM an hour ago and he has indicated that he will call the meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security soon,” he said.
He said the CMs of the Maoist-infested states had requested him for aerial support to strike at Leftist guerrillas in the forests where the rebels have a distinct advantage of the topography and lie quietly in wait and trigger landmine devices.
5 states on alert
The government today asked the five states to tighten security and take maximum precaution during the 48-hour bandh called by the Maoists beginning tomorrow.
Orissa, Bihar, West Bengal, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh have been advised by the Home Ministry to deploy adequate number of security personnel in the sensitive areas and remain alert during the bandh period.
Cong leader killed
Stepping up their offensive, Maoists shot dead a local Congress leader inside his vehicle and set it ablaze in Lumbatoli village in the district. The victim, Hemant
Bage, was on way to his relative's house when a group of ultras intercepted his vehicle and shot him dead, Sub-divisional Police Officer
(Simdega), Varun Kumar said today. — PTI