The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Naidu landmine attack suspects gunned down

Hyderabad, Jan. 25: Three Peopleís War Group militants believed to be involved in the landmine attack on chief minister . Chandrababu Naidu near Tirupati last year were shot dead by police today in two separate incidents.

B. Satyam and Shivanand, who were caught on the outskirts of Bangalore on a tip-off last night, were being taken to Tirupati by road in a police convoy. At dawn, their handcuffs were taken off and they were allowed to relieve themselves near the Heritage Dairy at Peleru in Chittoor district.

While getting down from the vehicle, the Naxalites tried to snatch a weapon from one of the policemen. The escort party fired on the fleeing detainees, killing Satyam on the spot. Shivanand succumbed to his injuries on the way to Peleru hospital.

In another encounter in Kurnool district, Tiger Gaganna, the self-styled commander of the Rayalseema dalam, was shot dead by police personnel. A police statement released in Tirupati said the Naxalite was killed when he tried to escape from a police team trying to trap him.

The encounters follow a massive manhunt launched by the police after Naidu survived a bid on his life when he was travelling to the temple at Tirupati on October 1 last year.

PWG action teams had placed 17 Claymore landmines in a flowerbed by the road leading to Tirupati. Some of them were triggered by the Naxalites, ripping apart the chief ministerís bullet-proof vehicle. Naidu had a miraculous escape and suffered fractures only to his left collarbone and wrist.

The investigation is being spearheaded by a special investigation team under additional director-general of police D.T. Naik. He said four persons who helped Satyam assemble the landmines and provided him shelter are still at large. But the dragnet is closing and more arrests would be made soon, Naik added. Eight persons have been held so far for the attack.

The SIT probe cast light on poor surveillance by Tirupati police and led to the transfer of top district police officials. Its findings were in tune with that of the inquiry commission set up under Prakash Singh, a former chief of the National Security Guards, that state government employees had connived in the attack.

They also indicated failure of the intelligence set-up in the districts and lack of coordination in communication among the police units.

Following the Prakash Singh Commissionís recommendations, the state government has tightened security in the secretariat and in the districts for the chief ministerís visits.

All districts have been provided with bullet-proof cars and communication networks have been improved. The chief ministerís block in the secretariat has been sanitised and except on appointment, nobody, including mediapersons, can enter the fourth floor that houses Naiduís offices.

Security at Naiduís residence has also been tightened.

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