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PWG apologises for bus blast blunder

Hyderabad, Nov. 22 (PTI): The People’s War Group has publicly apologised for Monday’s bus explosion in Warangal district that killed 14 people.

The rebel group admitted that it had made a “blunder” in choosing its target, thinking the vehicle was carrying policemen. “The incident was a result of ‘miscalculation’ that the state roadways bus was carrying police personnel,” the outfit said.

“We seek pardon from people and families of the victims. It is an unforgettable and sad event in the history of the revolutionary movement,” spokesman of the PWG’s north Telangana special zone committee M. Bhaskar said in a handwritten letter faxed to some vernacular dailies in Warangal yesterday.

The outfit expressed “deep regrets” for the loss of lives, but warned people against travelling with policemen who might use them as “human shields” during combing operations.

“We thought that the bus was carrying policemen and targeted it. We had information that a police party was returning from Ilapur (where five Naxalites were killed over the weekend in a police encounter) with the bodies of our comrades. But, because of our miscalculation, we blasted another bus carrying passengers,” Bhaskar said.

On Monday, a landmine blast, triggered by Naxalites, blew up the RTC bus near Chintagudam village in a deep forest area, considered their stronghold, about 150 km from Warangal town. The landmine blast was apparently a retaliatory attack targeted at policemen who were believed to have participated in the Ilapur encounter.

“In the last two months, police have killed 19 of our colleagues in a brutal manner. Ours was not an intentional attack on innocent passengers. We appeal to the RTC staff not to allow policemen to use their buses,” the PWG said in its apology letter.

This is the second instance of a “military blunder” in the blood-soaked history of the Naxalite movement for which the PWG has tendered a public apology. In 1990, Naxalites had burnt down a bogie of the Kakatiya Express in Warangal district by mistake, killing 40 passengers.

The state government has hardened its stand in the wake of the blast and ruled out any initiative to resume the stalled talks with Naxalites. The government has asked them to first shun violence and join the social mainstream.

After three rounds of talks between PWG emissaries and the government in June-July this year, the dialogue process had collapsed with the Naxalite outfit pulling out of talks alleging continued “fake police encounters”.

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