Friday, September 22, 2006

2 cops killed, 29 hurt in blast

2 cops killed, 29 hurt in Naxal blast

The constables were defusing a bomb in a Maoist-hit area in West Bengal; the injured include 10 mediapersons

Rakhi Chakrabarty

Kolkata: Two constables were killed and 29 others, including 19 policemen and mediapersons, were injured when a bomb being defused on Thursday exploded in the Maoist-hit Lalgarh area in West Midnapore district of West Bengal.

Sumit Chaturvedi, additional SP (headquarters) of the district, was also admitted to the hospital with splinter injuries.

On Thursday, CPI (Maoists) observed their third foundation day. For this, they had called a 24-hour bandh in three districts of the state - West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia - affected by the Maoist menace.

Around 7.30 am, villagers passing through the road cutting through Jhitka jungle in Lalgarh police station area saw a tree lying across the road. On the wayside, they also spotted wires and informed the Lalgarh police station, barely one kilometre from the spot.

Sensing trouble, a bomb disposal squad was despatched from Belpahari police station. They reached around 10.30 am.

By then photographers and reporters also reached the spot. The BDS team inspected and found that the wires were false detonators. From a small mound nearby, they dug out a steel container.

The constables handling the suspicious object were trained in bomb disposal. But, in violation of all standard procedures and precautionary measures of bomb disposal, they hammered the container trying to force it open. And, immediately, the container exploded. Two constables of the CID's Bomb Disposal Squad - Utpal Bhakta and Basudeb Chakraborty - handling it died on the spot.

Incidentally, the two had successfully defused bombs and landmines eight times earlier. "But, this time their approach seemed to be casual,” said a senior police officer.

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