Two policemen and a cameraperson of national broadcaster Doordarshan were killed in a Maoist attack today in Dantewada district in Chhattisgarh which votes next month. Two policemen have been injured. Two Maoists were also probably killed, the police said.
The three-member Doordarshan team was in the Maoist-affected region for election coverage. The attack took place in the forests in Aranpur village in Dantewada. “Our party had gone to the area for patrolling. The Doordarshan crew was with them,” P Sunder Raj, DIG, Naxal Operation, said.
The state police, however, denied that the attack was linked to the elections. It was aimed at road construction project, the police said.
“Those killed were identified as Sub Inspector Rudra Pratap, Assistant Constable Mangalu and DD News cameraman Achyutanand Sahu from Delhi,” said Sundarraj P, a senior police office in charge of anti-Naxal operations in Chhattisgarh. Mr Sahu, who was from Odisha, had serious injuries and died later. The two policemen died on the spot.
The two other Doordarshan crew members, including a journalist from Delhi, are reported to be safe.
“DD News had deployed a camera team for election coverage in Chhattisgarh. The team included cameraman Achyutananda Sahu, reporter Dhiraj Kumar and light assistant Mormukt Sharma. The team came under attack by Maoists this forenoon near Dantewada,” state broadcasting body Prasar Bharti tweeted.
Three days ago, four soldiers of the Central Reserve Police Force died after Maoists blew up their anti-landmine vehicle in poll-bound Chhattisgarh’s Bijapur district. Two other CRPF jawans were injured in the improvised explosive device or IED blast.
Security has been strengthened in Dantewada, with 111 Central Reserve Police Force soldiers sent to the area for evacuation and reinforcement.
Union Minister Arun Jaitley condemned attack. “Naxals in Chhattisgarh have shown their cowardice by killing policemen & a DD cameraman in Aranpur. Government is responding in a befitting manner against such desperation of Naxals at all levels. Attack on the police & the press in any manner is heinous,” he tweeted.
The 90 seats of the Chhattisgarh Assembly will vote in two phases – November 12 and November 20. The Maoist-affected districts of southern Chhattisgarh will vote in the first phase of polling. Aranpur, where the attack took place, will go to polls for the first time since Independence.
Yesterday, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, who was campaigning in Chhattisgarh, claimed that the number of Maoist-affected districts has reduced from 150 to 78-80 over the years.
Addressing a press conference, the officer said security forces are keeping a close watch in the neighbouring areas after the attack. He said extra forces will be deployed in Dantewada and Bijapur.