Narrow escape for Buddha,Paswan;Policemen injured in Maoists' blast

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Salboni,West Midnapur,Nov 02 (UNI) West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and Union Minister Ramvilas Paswas had a narrow escape today when suspected Maoists triggered a blast below a bridge where their convoys were passing.

Police said five policemen, including the driver, of the last car of Mr Paswan's convoy were seriously injured.

The incident occurred on National Highway 60 at Kalaichandi Khal under Salboni police station, 8 KM from Midnapur.

Police said the chief minister's convoy was followed by that of the union minister for steel, fertiliser and chemicals. The explosion occurred when Mr Paswan's car had crossed the bridge. The last of the police pilot car, reffered to as the tail car, bore the brunt of the blast, suspected to have been caused by a landmine.

Mr Bhattacharjee and Mr Paswan had come to Salboni, a Maoist stronghold, to inaugurate the country's largest steel project of JSW Bengal Steel.

The injured were rushed to the Midnapur Medical College and Hospital in the accompanying press car, police said adding the exact nature of the blast was yet to be determined. Its impact was such that a high tension electric wire got disentangled and fell over some cars but caused no major damage.

Traffic was stopped on the road.

Later Mr Bhattacharjee, who had reached the Midnapur Circuit House along with Mr Paswan, sent the Superintendent of Police to the spot.

The incident occurred despite the deployment of some 1200 policemen, including RAF, SAP and EFR in view of today's VIP visit.

Police said earlier JMM activists had demonstrated at the venue demanding a chance to speak.

UNI XC PL DB1604

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