Oct. 17: At least seven persons, including the husband of a district board member, were killed in a landmine explosion triggered this evening by suspected Maoists in Aurangabad district.
The Maoist attack is being viewed as a backlash to the acquittal of all the 26 accused in 1999-Laxmanpur Bathe carnage in which 58 members of Dalit community were killed. All the deceased belonged to the same caste and were said to be associated with the outlawed Ranvir Sena.
The landmine exploded around 6.30pm when Sushil Pandey, the husband of Aurangabad district board member Sudha Devi, and his six aides were going to Pishaye village from Aranda in a sports utility vehicle (SUV). The landmines were planted under a culvert near Pathra, about 2km from Sushil’s native village Pishaye and around 130km southwest of Patna.
The impact of the explosion, under the jurisdiction of Khudwan police station, was felt in a radius of about 5km. The SUV reportedly went 200m above the ground in the impact of the blast.
All the occupants of the vehicle died on the spot. The deceased have been identified as Sushil Pandey, Yogendra Pandey, Ram Subhag Pandey, Pappu Pandey, Rajballav Upadhyay, Manish Pandey and Ram Pravesh Pandey.
Daudnagar sub-divisional police officer (SDPO) Anwar Javed said Sushil was on the hit list of the Maoists for long. “It seems the rebels were keeping a watch on his movement after he was released from jail a few months ago,” he said.
Aurangabad superintendent of police Daljeet Singh said the involvement of the Maoists in the attack was being ascertained. But the SDPO said the modus operandi hinted at their involvement.
Sources claimed that the district board member’s husband, Sushil, was earlier associated with the Ranvir Sena. He had remained underground for almost a decade and surrendered before the police about three years ago.
Additional director-general (headquarters) Ravinder Kumar said in Patna that the deceased were returning to their native place after seeking medical advice of a doctor for the ailing son of one Bhola Pandey. “A team of forensic experts has rushed to the spot,” he added.
Deputy inspector-general (Magadh range) B.S. Meena said additional forces had rushed to the spot.