Suspected Maoists attack Chhattisgarh minister’s house, kill guard

NEW DELHI: In a brazen attack, suspected Maoist cadres targeted Chhattisgarh women and child welfare minister Lata Usendi’s house in Kondagaon, about 220 km from Raipur, on Thursday and killed a policeman on guard.

Around 8 pm, two men came on a motorcycle and fired at Ratanlal Netam (25) of the district police standing guard in front of Usendi’s house. They shot the solitary guard from close range, snatched his INSAS rifle and rode away without resistance. Netam was rushed to hospital where he died.

Speaking to TOI, Bastar inspector-general T J Longkumer said, “We suspect a small action team of the Maoists killed him.”

Usendi’s house is at Kondagaon’s Sargipalpara, about 1 km from the nearest police station on the main road, said a source. The minister was not in the house. Her relatives present in the house were not harmed.

The attack on Usendi’s house shocked the district administration. Police suspect it is the handiwork of the Maoists’ East Bastar Divisional Committee. There has been a spate of killings and abduction in Chhattisgarh recently.

“With recent killings, Maoists have shown they have the capability to strike anywhere in Chhattisgarh,” said a counter-insurgency expert. Usendi’s house is in urban area.

On May 13, Maoists killed seven people, including six CISF jawans, within the NMDC mining complex at Kirandul in Dantewada, about 1km from company headquarters of the CISF.

A day before releasing abducted Sukma district magistrate Alex Paul Menon on May 3, Maoists killed two policemen and injured four others while firing indiscriminately on a police patrol at a weekly market in Dantewada’s Bacheli.

The sudden spurt of Maoist violence is believed to be part of a Tactical Counter Offensive Campaign (TCOC) by the Maoists which translates to ‘escalation of violence’. TCOC is conducted twice a year – once in April-May and again in December-January. This year, the Maoists launched the TCOC early, in March.

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