Maoists asked for Patel; Shukla tried to save himself: Eyewitness

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RAIPUR: Tribal leader Kawasi Lakma, the lone Congress MLA from Bastar who was wounded and is in a Jagdalpur hospital, said he saw the Maoists taking Chhattisgarh Congress chief Nand Kumar Patel and his son Dinesh towards dense forests with their hands tied.

“After some time, I heard gun shots. I feared the worst,” Lakma told reporters from his hospital bed. Lakma represents the Maoist-hit Konta segment in Sukma and has head injuries.

“The PCC chief, his son Dinesh and I were in the same car. When the Maoists began shooting, I got injured when glass shards hit my face and head. I was only half conscious when I saw Patel and his son being taken by the Maoists with their hands tied into the dense forest,” he added.

A terrified Lakma said he is unable to close his eyes or sleep as the incident keeps flashing before his eyes. “There were more than 300 Maoists and they fired indiscriminately,” Lakma said.

“Some Maoists asked us ‘Patel kaun hai?’ We said he was not among us,” said Shiv Narayan, a medical doctor who dabbles in politics. He added, “I told them I was a doctor. The rebels gave me water, a pain-killer injection, and said, “Yahin pade rehna (stay here).” There were women Maoists around 18 to 20 years old.

Another eyewitness Daulat Rohra, state congress committee secretary who was with VC Shukla in his car during the parivartan yatra, said the Maoists sprayed bullets at the former Union minister’s vehicle from close range. He was shot thrice. Roha said the rebels dragged him out of the car but left him apparently unable to identify him.

“Shukla was on the front seat and the PSO was in the rear. Our vehicle reached 15 minutes late to the spot and found other vehicles parked at Dharbha ghat. When the Maoists saw our vehicle, they began firing. Shukla pressed an emergency button which pushed his seat backwards and everyone inside the vehicle bowed down. But the bullets hit his stomach and another hit his leg,” said Rohra.

Another medical practitioner, Dr Choleshwar, said the rebels fired at will. “Some walked towards the vehicles to check those alive. They took away our mobile phones and purses. I think they showed some sympathy towards me when I said I was a doctor and a social worker,” he added.

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