NIA starts investigation; judicial inquiry ordered

Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh has acknowledged that there was a “lapse” and that led to Saturday’s Maoist attack on a Congress motorcade.

“An incident of such a magnitude could not have happened; there must have been some lapse somewhere. That is why in order to get to the bottom of the truth an impartial inquiry by a sitting judge has been ordered. The Government of India has also ordered an inquiry by the National Investigation Agency (NIA),” Mr. Singh said.

So far, two inquiries have been ordered. One would be led by a sitting judge of the High Court and the other by the NIA. “I have an open mind with regard to any kind of inquiry as long as it brings out the truth,” said Mr. Singh. His office told The Hindu that Mr. Singh insists on “speedy investigation.”

A five-member NIA team, headed by Inspector General (IG) S. K. Singh, arrived in Raipur on Monday. The team’s itinerary and work plan has not been disclosed. But, sources told The Hindu, the team will be based in Raipur for a “longish period.” The team members will visit the hilly tracts of Darbha and talk to officials concerned.

The NIA team visited a Raipur hospital to talk to some of the injured Congress workers and leaders.

Simultaneously, a security operation has been launched in and around Bastar and Sukma. “Six hundred paramilitary persons have been engaged in the operation. However, some of them are guarding the area where Saturday’s incident took place. It is a joint operation with the State police,” said a senior official. Additional Director-General (Naxal Operations) R.K. Vij told The Hindu that there is an ongoing operation in the Minapa area of Sukma where about one thousand members of paramilitary forces have been engaged. “That is an ongoing operation. However, there is no fresh deployment in the area,” he said. He has also claimed that 300 police personnel were deployed for road sanitisation on Saturday. “This was a reserve force for special operations, which was used for road opening. So this allegation, that road was not sanitised on Saturday, is not correct,” said Mr. Vij.

Meanwhile, the last rites of Congress chief Nand Kumar Patel and his son Dinesh, killed in the attack, were performed with State honours at their native village, Nandeli, in Raigarh district on Monday.

Mr. Patel’s younger son Umesh performed the rites, in the presence of Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, Governor Shekhar Dutta, and Mr. Raman Singh.

About three thousand people, including State Minister for Home R.P.N. Singh, attended the last rites of Mahendra Karma in his hometown in Pharsapal in Dantewada.