The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Black Cat stamp on Naidu bounceback agenda

Hyderabad, Oct. 12: At the first cabinet meeting tomorrow since the Tirupati blast, the Andhra Pradesh government proposes to approve deployment of National Security Guards to protect chief minister . Chandrababu Naidu.

The meeting at the residence of Naidu, who was injured in the blast on October 1, will also endorse executive decisions taken to reinforce security for the chief minister and fix the terms of reference of the commission of inquiry set up to probe the incident.

Several other measures against Left extremist activities in the state, including declaration of disturbed-area zones with vast powers for district police, will be cleared.

Preliminary inquiries revealed today that a crack 22-member team of the People’s War (PW) executed the operation in which landmines blew up on the convoy of Naidu as he was going to the Tirupati temple.

Police have taken into custody a PW activist who is suspected to have acted as a courier — supplying material for the blasts — for the core team. He is said to have been a member of the team that was assigned the task of eliminating the chief minister at the last plenum of the PW in November 2002.

Investigation reveals six members had kept vigil on the movement of the chief minister’s convoy while five others had positioned themselves near the spot where the mines were laid. Four more had kept getaway vehicles ready at three points and a five-member contingency team was on standby to take charge if any part of the operation went awry.

The probe report highlights the failure of the security network. “All the 70-plus members of the chief minister’s security (team) had landed at Tirupati with their family members and were more eager to visit the Balaji temple that evening rather than keep vigil on the chief minister,” it said.

Quoting information gathered from sources in the PW, the report said 11 extremists had arrived in Tirupati in three groups in March, indicating that the preparations had started more than six months ago. All of them lived separately and organised support — stay, vehicles and food — independently.

The claymore mines used in the blast were apparently first planted in the flowerbeds on Ghat Road, where the explosion occurred, in July when work on road widening and beautification started. Each mine weighing almost 100 kg was camouflaged as an earthen pot when it was put into the ground. The absence of rainfall helped keep the mines alive.

“All that the last teams had to do was locate the lead wires of the mines and connect them to a flash gun tied to the trees. They had used bigger flashes which appeared like domed heavy lights put up on a permanent basis for lighting the roads,” said an official of the forensic science lab.

Naidu now plans to return to Tirupati on October 16 by a special flight.

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