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HindustanTimes Thu,28 Aug 2014

Experts see insider hand in Maoists' Bastar strike

Ejaz Kaiser and Sanjib Kr Baruah, Hindustan Times  Raipur/New Delhi, May 28, 2013
First Published: 00:00 IST(28/5/2013) | Last Updated: 02:08 IST(28/5/2013)

As the debate rages over the alleged security lapses leading up to the Bastar massacre, the "almost perfect Maoist operation", say intelligence officials, couldn't have been possible without "inside information".

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The "selective killings" of state Congress chief Nand Kumar Patel and his son, Dinesh, too, have raised many questions.

Patel was among the 27 people killed when a Congress convoy was ambushed in Sukma district of Bastar division on May 25.

"As soon as the Maoists descended from the plateau, they had one question: 'where is Nand Kumar Patel?'" said officials familiar with the events.

The road where the attack was staged cuts through dense forests.

"On both sides of the road for at least 50km there is nothing but thick jungle with no known human habitation," said a senior police officer serving in the area for several years now.

The operation could only have been possible with precise information which only an insider could have provided, security and intelligence officials say.

Brig BK Ponwar, a guerilla warfare expert, wondered why the Congress convoy took the same route back.

"The person who asked them to follow the same route should be questioned," he said.

The convoy was to take another route - via Dantewada - on way back to Jagdalpur from Sukma but at the last moment the decision was changed.

The rebels spared Kawasi Lakma, a Congress MLA, who was in the same vehicle as Patel but took the PCC chief - who was not on their 'hit-list' - and his son almost half a kilometer away from the spot after identifying them. They tied up their hands and shot them dead.

"Why should they even kill his son and that too in a manner quite unusual to theirs," an expert on Maoist strategy and affairs said on condition of anonymity.

It appeared to be a motivated action as Maoists typically don't go for selective killings during an ambush, said a senior officer who has worked in Bastar.

Sources told HT that the National Investigation Agency team, which reached Bastar on Monday, was also probing the conspiracy angle.

State Congress general secretary Bhupesh Baghel dismissed the "conspiracy theories" and said "Raman Singh (chief minister) got them killed".

Why would a ruling party risk its prospects in an election year by getting involved in such attack, a senior BJP leader countered.


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