Four Congressmen are feared to be killed and four others seriously injured when Maoists blew up a bridge on a rivulet at Udanti near Devbhog about 175 km east of Raipur on Wednesday evening. State Congress president Nand Kumar Patel and other party leaders were returning after attending a farmers’ meet at Aramora when the convoy was attacked. The Congress leaders claimed at least eight had been killed.
The landmine blast hit the last couple of vehicles of the convoy as it crossed the rivulet. The rebels also opened fire immediately after triggering the blast.
“All the Congress leaders were unharmed. Four were killed and four persons who sustained serious injuries were rushed to the hospital,” additional director general of police (anti-Maoists operation) Ram Niwas told HT.
Talking to HT from Mainpur police station, where the Congressmen were escorted after the incident, Patel said, “We lost eight of our men and at least five were injured. No preventive measures were taken, despite the administration being informed three days ago about the event.”
Meanwhile, Congress president Sonia Gandhi called leader of opposition in the assembly Ravindra Choubey to express her grief and shock. Chhattisgarh Pradesh Congress Committee (CPCC) working president Satyanarayan Sharma and Patel's immediate predecessor Dhanendra Sahu were other leaders accompanying Patel.
CM Raman Singh has also condemned the attack. He condoled the deaths and directed director general of police Anil M Navaney to ensure immediate security arrangements.
The convoy reportedly comprised nearly 20 vehicles. All the occupants of one of the vehicles, which was completely damaged, were feared killed.
The police suspect the rebels might have targeted the jeep following the convoy, believing it to be a police vehicle. “One vehicle suffered extensive damage. The police party accompanying the convoy retaliated when Maoists opened fire after the blast,” said Niwas. The rebels fled after the attack.