Naxals Laid Death Traps on Two Routes For MLA Mandavi and His Cavalcade
Police had repeatedly asked the MLA not to travel to Shyamgiri, especially through Kuankonda, as inputs had been received of the presence of some Naxals, but he refused to pay heed to their request.
A 10-ft deep crater was created at the place where the blast took place.
Bastar: A group of 40-50 heavily armed Naxals are believed to have carried out the attack in Bastar's Dantewada district on Wednesday which resulted in the death of local MLA Bhima Mandavi and four other security personnel with him.
That is not all. Sources told News18 that in order to ensure the MLA’s death, the ultras had planted IEDs on two roads, one of which Mandavi's cavalcade had to take to reach their destination, Shyamgiri Hills.
Sources told News18 that Mandavi's cavalcade was moving from Bacheli, where he held a meeting with BJP's mahila morcha, towards Shyamgiri taking a shortcut via Kuankonda.
Through Kuankonda, sources said, there were two routes to reach Shyamgiri hills, and the Maoists had laid death traps for him on both the routes.
Another fact that has come to light during conversations with senior police officers in Dantewada is that Mandavi had himself sent away a part of his security detail and secondly, police had repeatedly asked him not to travel to Shyamgiri, especially through Kuankonda, as inputs had been received of the presence of some Naxals.
However, Mandavi had refused to accept repeated pleas by senior police officers.
A recent incident on April 4, when Maoists had attacked a paramilitary unit in Pankhajur in Kanker district, in which four security personnel were killed and another two were injured, had alerted security personnel of a possibly larger presence of extremists in the south Bastar area.
"It seems that Naxalites had meticulously planned this attack and according to information, they had laid an ambush on the Shyamgiri-Gongpal route as well. There is still a container left on that route that has a 100m wire attached to it," said a senior police officer.
A 10-ft deep crater was created at the place where the blast took place. Beside the MLA, the four constables of the district force — Chhagan Kuldip, Ramlal Oyami, Somdu Kawasi and Danteshwar Rao — were also killed on the spot.
A member of the forensic team which analysed the IED blast crater found that it was 6-m wide and 5-m deep. Around 40-45kg of explosives are estimated to have been used.
The Naxals are believed to have laid the ambush behind trees 200m from the site of impact.
“About 40-50 armed and uniformed Maoists were waiting in the ambush. These ultras are believed to be non- locals. They were well trained and probably brought form outside to execute this attack,” a source said.
Naxalites also carried away an INSAS rifle and two AK-47 rifles belonging to the security personnel.
On 28 February 2018, Maoists had attacked and killed a senior police officer, Vivek Shukla, and five security personnel.
This is not the first time that Naxalites have attacked the cavalcade of a political party.
On 25 May 2013, Naxalites had targeted a cavalcade of the Congress not very far from here. Senior Congress leader VC Shukla, the then head of Chhattisgarh state Congress Nandkumar Patel and Mahendra Karma, the leader of disbanded vigilante group — Salwa Judum — were among the 30 killed. The top brass of Chhattisgarh’s Congress unit was wiped off in the attack.
Sequence of events
“On Tuesday at 9am, the MLA had gone on his campaign with a cavalcade of three vehicles. He was sitting in a bullet-proof vehicle. A group of 50 security personnel was with him, 25 of them were in his cavalcade and the remaining following him on two-wheelers. He returned to his party office around 1pm after finishing his campaign," DGP, DM Awasthi told News18.
Awasthi said that it was at his party office that Mandavi told a senior district reserve guard (DRG) that since the campaign was over, he did not need any security.
Mandavi stayed in his office for some time, while the team of DRGs returned from there. After that, he went to the party office at Kirandul to meet party workers there.
"From there, he left for Bacheli accompanied by a cavalcade of three vehicles. Around 3.50 pm, the police station in-charge had called the MLA and asked him not to take the shortcut route of Kuankonda as the ROP (road opening party) has not been done on this route. The MLA was having this conversation when he was still on his way on this route. This call lasted for one minute and 29 seconds. The MLA’s vehicle was targeted around 4.45pm by triggering an IED blast. The thana in-charge of Kuankonda, Sheel Aditya Singh, learnt about the blast and he immediately contacted Bhima Mandavi on his mobile," Awasthi added.
The blast was so powerful that the vehicle was completely destroyed. It was tossed some 15ft up in the air and was completely damaged.
(The writer is a freelance reporter from Bastar)
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