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Chhattisgarh Congress leader escapes landmine blast

Posted on Nov 08, 09:38PM | IANS

Chhattisgarh Congress leader Mahendra Karma, who is credited with founding the anti-Maoist movement Salwa Judum, escaped a landmine blast Thursday while his motorcade was passing through a forest in Dantewada district.

"Karma had a miraculous escape... The leader was on way to Barsoor from Dantewada," Special Director General of Police Ramniwas told IANS.

He said 62-year-old Karma, who was travelling in a bullet-proof car, escaped unhurt but his driver and two security guards were injured.

Salwa Judum, which means "peace march" in the local language, was a movement which armed rural and tribal youth against the Maoists.

On July 5, 2011, the Supreme Court declared the militia unconstitutional and asked the Chhattisgarh government to disband it.

Dantewada district Superintendent of Police Narendra Khare said: "The front portion of Karma's vehicle was torn apart and the blast created a huge crater on the road that showed the intensity of the blast."

He said Karma was taken to a hospital in Dantewada town with very minor injuries. Karma's driver Sukheswar Singh and his two AK-47-armed security guards - A.P.S. Toppo and Arun Shukla - sustained injuries but were reported to be out of danger.

Karma, who is nick-named as "Bastar Tiger", was minister in the Ajit Jogi-led Congress government which was voted out of power in the November 2003 assembly polls.

He was leader of opposition as well and now enjoys Z-plus security cover purely for a threat to his life by the Maoists.

Karma has always been a thorn in the flesh of Maoists and his civil militia movement, Salwa Judum, that began in restive Bastar in June 2005, resulted in a massive setback to the Maoists' movement in 40,000 sq km Bastar region.