West Bengal police begin probe into landmine blast

November 3rd, 2008 - 6:38 pm ICT by IANS  

Midnapur (West Bengal), Nov 3 (IANS) A day after suspected Maoists ambushed with a landmine blast the convoy of two cenral ministers and the West Bengal chief minister, a redfaced state police force Monday began a probe with its chief describing the incident as a “learning experience”. Director General of police Anup Bhushan Vora rushed to the spot, three km from this headquarters of the West Midnapore district, near Bhadutala where the militants had dug the mine in a paddy field several metres from the road and detonated it from a distance of 2.5 km by laying wires underground.

In Kolkata, Home Secretary Ashok Mohan Chakraborty expressed concern at the way the suepected Maoists manged to place and detonate the mine despite the security arrangements put in place for the VVIPs and promised prompt action against anybody found responsible for the lapses.

Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and central ministers Ram Vilas Paswan and Jitin Prasada had a narrow escape in the Sunday blast, which occurred as they were returning after the groundbreaking ceremony of the JSW Bengal Steel project in Salboni.

Six policemen in Paswan’s pilot car were injured as the vehicle bore the brunt of the explosion. Three of the injured were serious.

The police have conducted a series of raids in the villages since Sunday night and interrogated residents to find out whereabouts of the culprits and how and when they executed their ambush plan.

Along with Vora, Additional Director General of Criminal Investigation Department Vupinder Singh, the chief minister’s special security officer Arvind Maliwal and Inspector General of Police (Western Range) Kuldip Singh conducted the on-the-spot investigations and tried to reconstruct the events, before holding a meeting here.

“We are trying to find out whether there were lapses on our part, and fix responsibility for the same. But the main purpose of my visit is to take lessons from the mishap and ensure it does not recur,” Vora said.

“For me, every such incident is a learning experience. And we need to find out what security steps we should take,” he told newspersons at the blast site.

Vora said the police were trying to ascertain the exact nature of the explosives used, the tactics employed by the ultras, and the exact number of the culprits.

“We are trying to find out the ultras’ access route and escape route,” he said.

Maliwal said the ultras used an improvised explosive device, whose exact composition could be determined only after the forensic test results were available.

He, however, expressed concern over some aspects.

“Firstly, the ultras detonated the device from a 2.5-km distance. That they have become capable of causing an explosion from such a distance is something new and disturbing,” he said.

“Moreover, the splinter they have used is also new,” Maliwal said as he inspected a deep crater formed at the blast site.

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