PM, Sonia meet Maoist attack victims in Chhattisgarh

Raipur, May 26 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Sunday asserted that the Maoist attack on Congress leaders in Chhattisgarh will not weaken resolve to combat extremism as he and party chief Sonia Gandhi met the injured and families of the dead, which included two senior leaders.

Both the prime minister and the Congress chief visited the hospital here where the injured have been admitted, and interacted with members of victims’ families.

They also attended a condolence meeting at the party office in the Congress Bhawan here and spoke to party workers.

Speaking at the meet, the prime minister said that such incidents will not weaken the country`s resolve to fight violence with firmness.

“We have to be more determined in fighting Naxal (Maoist) extremism. These lives should not go in vain. We will pursue the perpetrators of this crime with urgency, and I can assure the nation that the government is committed to bringing them to justice,” he said.

The prime minister also reviewed the security situation in Chhattisgarh with Chief Minister Raman Singh and officials of the state government. He offered all possible help to the state in dealing with the situation.

“Those who commit such dastardly crimes are working against the interests of peace and development in the area,” he said.

Asking the state administration to provide the best medical treatment to the injured, he announced an ex-gratia relief of Rs.500,000 from the Prime Minister`s National Relief Fund to the families of those who have lost their lives and Rs.50,000 to those injured.

UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi was visibly shocked by the killing of Congress leaders and others, including drivers and security personnel, in the Maoist ambush, about 35 km from Sukma, in Bastar region.

Calling it a “cowardly act” on the part of Maoists, she said the strike was not an attack on the Congress or its leaders, but an attack on democratic values.

“This is a cowardly act. It is not an attack on Congress or its leaders but an attack on democratic values,” Gandhi said.

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, who too arrived in Raipur in the wake of the ambush of the Congress leaders’ convoy, expressed shock over the attack on party colleagues by Maoists.

A large number of Maoists Saturday attacked a Congress party convoy, blocking its way with felled trees, setting off a landmine blast and then opening fire. The attack left nearly 30 people dead, including state unit chief Nand Kumar Patel and former leader of opposition Mahendra Karma, and at least 25 injured.

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