Killing of three polling officials and five policemen returning from election duty by suspected Maoists on Thursday evening marked the end of the three-phased polling for Lok Sabha seats in Jharkhand.
A cop reacts after a suspected Maoist rebel attack on a convoy of election officials at Sikaripara in Dumka district, Ranchi. (AFP photo)
The conductor of the bus is also feared dead. Director general of police Rajiv Kumar said since the site of the ambush was hard to reach, evacuation of the dead and injured was taking time.
Kumar said the tragedy could have been averted had the policemen heeded security instructions exhorting them to avoid travelling on any vehicle in Maoist-hit areas.
Jharkhand police spokesperson Anurag Gupta said that the rescue team has found bodies of eight people from the blast site.
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The deceased have been identified as assistant sub-inspector of police (ASI) RN Singh, a Havildar (name not known), constable Ravinder Kujur, and two other policemen. Identities of the polling party staffs were being ascertained, he said. Gupta said, five persons including ASI Heeralal Pal were found badly injured in the blast.
An officer of the nearby Shikaripara police station, who was among the first to reach the spot, said the bodies were hanging from the windows of the bus that was badly damaged in the blast. He said at least four injured persons somehow managed to come out of the bus and reach the nearby police station.
"We are administering the injured first aid and rushing them to the nearby hospital in Dumka," said the officer, who is not authorised to speak to media.
The incident has once again raised concerns of security of polling staff travelling with security forces.
Sources said that the polling party was returning to Dumka after completion of the voting when the Maoists triggered the IED and blew up the bus near the Dwarika River.
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An injured police official being taken to the hospital after suspected Maoists attack at Sikaripara in Dumka of Jharkhand. (PTI photo)
Though two helicopters were stationed at the Dumka airport for evacuation work, they could not fly due to darkness.
Calling for peaceful boycott of the polls, Maoists had appealed to the polling party to refrain from travelling with security forces.
"Do not blame us if you risk your lives travelling with the security forces," the rebels had warned, while speaking to HT few days ahead of the polls. Jharkhand went to polls in three phases, which ended Thursday. At least 10 of the 14 constituencies have a heavy presence of Maoists.
As assured by them, the rebels did not chop off fingers of any civilian or caused any kind of harm to them for violating their poll boycott diktat.
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