RAIPUR: Senior Congress leader Mahendra Karma, who spearheaded an anti-Naxalite movement in Bastar, had a miraculous escape on Thursday when a powerful landmine attack triggered by the Maoists hit his carcade in the trouble prone Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh. “Mahendra Karma is safe. A driver in his carcade and another person was injured”, a senior police official told TOI over telephone from Bastar. Karma is a former leader of the opposition in the Chhattisgarh and had also served as a minister in the previous Ajit Jogi government.
The incident took place when the senior tribal leader was on his way from Faraspal to Barsrur to attend a programme in Dantewada district when the powerful landmine went off, targeting his bullet-proof vehicle. Initial reports said the rebels first blew up a culvert before triggering the landmine blast and also opened indiscriminate firing from a distance. Security personnel accompanying Karma, who has been given Z plus security cover, returned fire and engaged the rebels even as additional forces were rushed to the spot to take on the Maoist cadres. He was immediately rushed to the district hospital where he underwent a medical check-up as he complained of giddiness due to high-blood pressure. “Even in the past, the Naxalites had made several attempts on my life. I am safe. My driver sustained serious injuries”, Karma told reporters at the hospital.
Karma had spearheaded the controversial “Salwa Judum”, the anti-Naxalite movement which started in Bastar in 2005 and went on for almost three years. The movement, which also had the tacit support of the BJP government, had led to large scale displacement of people who had to take shelter in 23 odd relief camps in fear of Maoist retaliation. The Congress leader has been on the top of hit list of the Maoists, particularly after the launch of Salwa Judum.