Sunday September 9 2007 13:46 IST
M Srinivasa Rao
NELLORE: Incredible as it may sound, one of the special action team members of the CPI (Maoist) actually hitched a ride in the convoy of former Chief Minister N Janardhan Reddy and tipped off his comrades as they were nearing the spot.
This was confirmed by a cousin of the former chief minister, Hemakumar Reddy, who told the police that a youth showed up at the Vakadu residence of Janardhan Reddy when he and his minister-wife Rajyalakshmi were about to leave for Tirupati. Posing as a student of a nearby engineering college, he requested Hemakumar to let him come along with him in his car as he wanted to attend the SV University function conferring an honorary doctorate on Janardhan Reddy.
''I allowed him to travel in my car. En route, I recall him picking up his mobile phone and telling someone that he was 'reaching the spot','' Hemakumar told the police, adding that no sooner had the blast happened than the youth jumped out of the vehicle and vanished.
The police are seriously pursuing this line of investigation and trying to identify the numbers of mobile phones from which the calls originated and were received from various cell towers covering the blast site.
The police, who apprehended at the blast site a non-local moving under suspicious circumstances, are questioning him. But they have not been able to get much vital information from him.
Special Intelligence Bureau teams have taken up the investigation independent of the district police even as forensic experts identified the explosive material used in the landmine as Ammonium Nitrate and concluded that the bomb was placed a few hours before it was triggered.
On the hunch that the action team members might have stayed in the Nellore suburbs before carrying out their mission, police teams are checking some residential colonies.
Locals in Tailors Colony told the police of the presence of some strangers in the locality during the last few weeks. They were employed by a local contractor, who has since been questioned and has said that the strangers claimed to be migrant labour from Srikakulam district. Their descriptions are being compared with photos of Maoists available with the police.
Meanwhile, a former Maoist, Krishna Prasad, was picked up from Chavali of Pellakur mandal and some 'incriminating documents' seized from him. Greyhounds teams have begun combing operations in the forests bordering Prakasam and Kadapa districts on the assumption that the Maoists might have fled into Nallamala Forest.