Doordarshan cameraman, two cops killed in Maoist attack in Chhattisgarh
A Doordarshan cameraperson and two policemen were killed in a Maoist ambush in Dantewada district of poll-bound Chhattistgarh on Tuesday morning.
Two other police personnel were also injured in the ambush that took place near Sumeli camp. The Maoists have been asking people to boycott the polls.
The three-member Doordarshan team was in Bastar for election coverage and heading for reporting on a new polling booth in Nilawaya near Sumeli camp. People in Nilawaya have not exercised their voting rights for the past 20 years.
Two other DD News staffers, including a journalist from Delhi, are said to be safe. Those killed were identified as sub-inspector Rudra Pratap, assistant constable Mangalu and DD News cameraperson Achyutananda Sahu from Delhi.
Special director general (naxal operations) DM Awasthi said, “Dantewada superintendent of police Abhishek Pallav, along with his team, immediately rushed to the spot with reinforcements.”
Two-three Maoists were also killed in the exchange of fire, Awasthi added.
“During a search of the place, at least 10 IEDs (improvised explosive devices or crude bombs) planted were recovered by security forces . The ambush was to target the CRPF patrolling team and create fear among road contractors and workers engaged in road construction. Unfortunately, the media team reached there earlier and fell into the trap,” Awasthi said.
Claiming that the attack was not linked with polls , Awasthi said, “The incident should not be linked with polls as it was meant to thwart road construction work which has been going on for the past couple of years in the Maoist affected areas in the state.”
SP Abhishek Pallav said the Maoists took away the camera of the cameraperson after the incident.
“After the firing started, two other media personnel of DD crawled into a ditch on the under-construction road to save themselves. The Maoists fired on them but assistant constable Manglu tried to give them cover. He lost his life,” Pallav said, almost breaking down.
Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh condemned the attack on police forces and the DD team, calling it an “attack on democracy.” Minister of state (independent charge) for information and broadcasting Rajyavardhan Rathore also condemned the attack. “These insurgents will not weaken our resolve. We will prevail,” he wrote on Twitter
Last week, four CRPF personnel were killed and two more injured after Maoists used a powerful IED to target a bulletproof mobile bunker vehicle in Bijapur district.
Chhattisgarh will go to polls in two phases, on November 12 and November 20. The counting will be held on December 11.
“Road construction work between Sameli and Nilawaya villages (where the attack took place on Tuesday) was started a couple of months ago. Maoists have been opposing the construction since it began,” Awasthi said in a press conference.
Dheeraj Kumar, a DD journalist who survived in the attack, told Hindustan Times that firing took place for about 45 minutes .
“ At around 10.25 am, I saw the motorcycle which was heading our troupe suddenly fell down . My cameraman who was just behind the first motorcycle was hit by a bullet and he fell down in front of my eyes. Our motorcycle also lost balance and to my fortune, I fell into a ditch and crawled deeper,” Kumar recounts.
“For the next 45 minutes, it was horror for me. I laid in the ditch and all I could hear was the sound of bullets. I felt as if 50 rounds whirled above my head,” said Kumar, who hails from Begusarai.
What actually happened as per DG Awasthi?
On Tuesday morning, a Road Opening Party (ROP) of CPRF 111th battalion had launched an operation to ensure security to road construction workers. Meanwhile, a three-member team of Doordarshan, along with personnel from Aranapur police station led by sub-inspector Rudra Pratap Singh, was also heading towards Nilawaya on motorcycles to cover news related to development work and polling preparations, he said.
On the way, ahead of Nilawaya, the media team spotted a Maoist poster put up on a branch of a tree. To record, cameraperson Achyutanand Sahu got down from the motorcycle and went close to the tree. Around 200 Maoists opened fire on the team. Sahu was hit on the first round of fire,” he said.
Another blast in Balrampur’s Sarguja
A 65-year-old villager was killed when a pressure bomb, suspected to have been planted by Maoists, went off in Chhattisgarh’s Balrampur district.
The incident took place at around 11:30 am near Nawadih village under Samri police station limits. The deceased was identified as Budhan Yadav from Nawadih.
As per police, road construction work is under way in Samri area adjoining neighbouring Jharkhand.