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Suspected escape route identified

By Our Special Correspondent

The dilapidated structure which the combing party came across on Friday close to the place from where the naxalites triggered the mines.

TIRUPATI. Oct. 3. Senior police officials continued to visit the blast site on Friday, third day of the attack on the Chief Minister, for a probe from their own angles. The IG, Special Investigation Branch (Anti-naxals), Gautham Sawang, who visited the site on Friday, took a video film of the suspected escape-route connecting the blast site with the Alipiri bypass road linked to the Bangalore highway. Grass and shrubs along the escape route appeared to have been cut very recently, presumably by the attackers. Mr. Sawang also took video shots of a dilapidated structure which remained concealed in the shrub jungles between the blast site and the bypass road. He did not rule out that the abandoned structure could have been used as possible hideout by the extremists during their mission taking advantage of its location camouflaged under thick vegetation. It is not immediately known as to what the disused structure was all about, why and since when it had been existing there and to whom it belonged.

Among the other investigating teams that visited the blast site today was the one led by the Chittoor SP, Naveenchand, who was found taking a fresh look at the site. A mobile police party from the TTD's Vigilance and Security wing was also at the site, inspecting the spot. It had taken a low profile after the blast apparently demoralised by the daring attempt on the CM's life less than 200 metres from the spot where it operated the toll gate.

Meanwhile, sources said, the district police picked up for `questioning' more than a dozen persons reportedly belonging to the TTD's forest and engineering wing. Among those picked up for questioning were a TTD forest ranger, a contractor and some masthries who had worked along the blast site earlier.

The investigating agencies have nearly concluded that the ultras had planted the serial mines a long time ago along a 150 ft stretch on the roadside. They suspect that the miscreants working in the guise of the forest or road workers had planted the mines underneath the rivetment presumably two or three months ago given the growth and the size of the vegetation along the trench where the 17 serial mines were found planted. Those detained were said to have been questioned as to the possible identities of the miscreants and related matters. They were however let off later.

It is significant that the Government appointed the security wizard, S. Subramanian as probe panel chief. It was Mr. Subramanian whom the TTD had engaged to study its security arrangements in the temple complex, at the toll-gates. It was on the basis of his recommendations that a number of modifications have been made in the security set-up and many state-of-the-art security gadgets procured and installed by the TTD at all vulnerable spots.

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