Maoists shot dead a relative of Chhattisgarh forest minister Vikram Usendi on the night of Wednesday-Thursday in Kanker district, about 200 km south of Raipur.
According to the Kanker police, Maoists went to the residence of Sumat Usendi, the minister’s cousin, late at night and killed him.
Sumat had been a member of the Kanker district panchayat. At present, his wife, Urmila Usendi, is a member.
The police said there was no apparent threat to Sumat. “We are trying to ascertain the motive behind the killing. Sumat was not on any hit list, so we had not provided him with a security cover,” Kanker superintendent of police Rajendra Das said.
Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh has condemned the incident. Vikram Usendi was not available for comment.
Additional forces have been sent to the place and a search operation has been launched.
Maoists wield influence in Kanker, one of the seven districts of Bastar’s red zone in south Chhattisgarh.
War within claims two maoists
Members of the Tritiya-Sammelan Prastuti Committee (TPC), a breakaway Maoist faction, have killed two hardcore ultras, exposing the intense war within the red brigade for gaining the upper hand. The Maoists had gathered to commemorate martyr’s week.
The police on Thursday found the bodies near a river bridge, 150 km northeast of Ranchi.
The five-six accomplices of the two deceased are suspected to be in TPC captivity.
According to the police, the ultras have been identified as Niraj Kumar, a resident of Gaya, and Baleshwar Yadav of Chatra district in Jharkhand.
This is the first major blow to the core Maoist group after the TPC killed 10 of its members in March.