The ruling party MLA and a district collector had a miraculous escape when the Maoists triggered a powerful landmine blast at Pegdapalli in Bijapur district, about 350 km south of Raipur, killing three civilians and injuring one.
The rebels targeted a team involved in the state government sponsored Gram Suraj Abhiyan (village contact programme) moving in a convoy of eight vehicles. “The third vehicle was hit by the blast detonated by the naxals. Three persons including a district panchayat member Mahesh Pujari were killed”, the ADG (anti-Maoist operation) Ramniwas, who ruled out any negligence on the part of the police, told HT.
The other two killed in the blast are Bhairamgarh zonal party president Purushottam Thakur and the driver of the ill-fated Bolero jeep Ashwani Sharma. BJP legislator Mahesh Gagda and collector Rajat Kumar, reportedly traveling in the second vehicle of the convoy, narrowly escaped the attack.
Chief Minister Raman Singh condemned the incident and asked those carrying out the programme to remain extra-cautious while moving in the Maoist-infested areas. “This is a cowardly act of the Maoists who are against any development initiative”, the CM said.
This is for the first time the rebels had attacked a gram suraj abhiyan group and the casualty resulted. The team under the programme visits the village to interact with the villagers and reviews the performance of the government at the grass-root level and simultaneously attempts to address the grievances of the people.
Bijapur is among the seven districts of insurgency-hit district Bastar zone in south Chhattisgarh.