BJP MLA killed in C'garh Naxal attack

BJP MLA killed in Cgarh Naxal attack

Mangled remains of a vehicle after a BJP convoy was attacked by Maoists in Dantewada on Tuesday. (Inset) BJP legislator Bheema Mandavi

Raipur: A BJP MLA and four security personnel were killed, when Naxals attacked a convoy in Chhattisgarh's Dantewada on Tuesday afternoon. The BJP leader was identified as Bhima Mandavi, an MLA from Dantewada.

The incident, which took place in Shyamgiri under the Kuakonda police station, comes just 48 hours ahead of polling in Bastar region. According to a preliminary report, the dead included Mandavi's driver and three personal security officers, said Deputy Inspector General (Naxal Operations) P Sundar Raj.

The IED (improvised explosive device) blast triggered by Naxals hit the two-vehicle convoy as it passed the area near Shyamgiri hills, said officials.

Mandavi, who was in the second car, was en route to Kuankonda from Kirandul after presiding over a meeting of the BJP's Mahila Morcha (women's wing). He was going to check the poll-preparedness of party workers there.

The explosion targeted the first car, which had security personnel travelling in it. The second car, with Mandavi, was showered upon by bullets. Central Reserve Police Force personnel were rushed to the spot.

The police had advised political convoys to stick to main roads, sources said. But the BJP convoy took a short cut — from Bacheli to Nakulnad via Kuakondato — to save time on the last day of campaigning.

The BJP MLA Mandavi was the deputy leader of the Opposition. In last year's Assembly elections, Mandavi had defeated "Bastar Tiger" Mahendra Karma's wife and current legislator Devi Karma. Mahendra Karma was responsible for giving shape to the vigilante group Salwa Judum.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi offered his condolences. "Mandavi was a dedicated Karyakarta of the BJP. Diligent and courageous, he assiduously served the people of Chhattisgarh. His demise is deeply anguishing.

Condolences to his family and supporters. Om Shanti," tweeted Modi. Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala condemned the "cowardly attack" incident and said it would not prevent democracy from flourishing. In a similar incident in 2014 in the area, the Naxals had laid an ambush, killing seven security personnel.

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