Raipur, May 20 (IANS) Seven security personnel were killed in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district on Sunday when a landmine planted by Maoists ripped through the vehicle they were travelling in.
According to officials, of the seven – three of the state police and four of the Chhattisgarh Armed Force (CAF) – five of them died on the spot and two succumbed to their injuries in hospital. While four hailed from the state, two were from Uttar Pradesh and one from Bihar.
Additional Superintendent of Police, Naxals (Maoists) J.N. Baghel said that injured trooper Arjun Rajbhar was referred to Raipur and airlifted to the state capital and admitted to a private hospital, but died.
He identified the three state police personnel as Ramkumar Yadav and Shaligram Sinha of Kanker, Tikeshwar Dhruv of Dhamtari, while the CAF troopers were Vikram Yadav of the state’s Kodegaon, Rajesh Singh of Bihar’s Begusarai, Ravinath Patel of Uttar Pradesh’s Varanasi and Rajbhar of Ghazipur.
Earlier Deputy Inspector General of Police, Dantewada Range, P. Sundarraj had told IANS that six personnel were killed while one was seriously injured.
Deputy Inspector General of Police (South Bastar Range) Ratan Lal Dangi said a road was being built between Kirandul and Cholnar.
“A joint team of Chhattisgarh Armed Force and district police personnel was travelling to Kirandul to provide security to the labourers and officials there.”
The Maoists had reportedly planted a landmine in the Cholnar jungle area which exploded as the police vehicle drove over it, detonating with a deafening roar.
The powerful explosion shattered the jeep into many parts and left a 10-feet crater. The Maoists who were apparently watching from a distance took away the weapons including two AK-47s, two Insas and two SLR rifles.
Inspector General of Police, Bastar, Vivekanand Sinha told the media: “We have sounded a high alert in the area and launched a search operation for the Naxalites.”
The blast took place two days before Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh is set to hold a public meeting in Dantewada. Officials said security would be further increased for the Chief Minister’s meeting.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Congress President Rahul Gandhi condoled the deaths.
“Deeply anguished to know about the death of Chhattisgarh police personnel… My thoughts are with the bereaved families of the martyred police personnel,” Rajnath Singh tweeted.
Calling the news “very sad”, Gandhi tweeted: “My condolences to the families of those killed.”
Maoists have been active in the Dantewada region for decades, running a state within a state.