Hyderabad, Jan. 5: Six persons — three policemen and three Naxalites — were killed in Guntur district today as the People’s War Group turned the heat on chief minister Chandrababu Naidu’s Janmabhoomi programme.
The three constables, who were escorting a team of revenue officials to a remote region in the Palnadu forests to participate in the Janmabhoomi programme, were killed in a landmine blast.
The mines, planted near Sarangapalli in Guntur by extremists of the PWG’s Krishnapatti dalam, missed the bus carrying the officials and several other policemen on motorbikes. But riders towards the end of the convoy fell prey to it. While Sambashiv Reddy and Koteswar Rao, constables of the Greyhounds, an anti-Naxalite force, died on the spot, policeman P. Srinivas Rao succumbed to injuries on the way to hospital.
After the explosion, the remaining policemen chased the extremists, who were fleeing from the site. The revenue officials sent SOS messages over their wireless sets to the district police headquarters, in response to which additional forces were promptly despatched.
Boosted by the reinforcements, the policemen surrounded the Naxalites 4 km away. In the subsequent exchange of fire, three rebels, including a woman, were killed. The others escaped into the forests. The police are yet to identify the dead Naxalites.
This was the third incident during the week of Naxalite assault on the 18th round of the Janmabhoomi programme, which has been renewed with a focus on women issues. When the programme was launched, there were several attacks on government vehicles and property by the PWG to subvert it.
The PWG triggered another landmine in Gollepalligudem of Warangal district, injuring a police constable on Janmabhoomi duty. A municipal commissioner in Anantpur district had been kidnapped earlier.
However, anger at the Janmabhoomi programme, it seems, is not limited to the Naxalites only. Protests against the scheme have gathered momentum across the state and officials and Telugu Desam party workers were gheraoed in Krishna and Medak districts.
In Kurnool and Medak, ministers were stalled from launching any programme.
At Enumamula village, about 70 km from Warangal, where chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu went to launch the polio vaccine programme, the women did not allow him to speak, it is reported. He had to return without addressing them.