Mahendra Karma: The Bastar Tiger no more

Last Updated: Tue, May 28, 2013 14:04 hrs

Mahendra Karma, who was shot dead by Naxalites in Chhattisgarh's Jagdalpur area on May 25, played an important role is organizing the Salwa Judum movement.

It was an anti-insurgency operation in Chattisgarh to counter the Naxalite violence in the region. Young tribals were armed with heavy weaponry to beat the Maoists at their own game. However, the movement was disbanded in 2011.

The tribal leader from Bastar was constantly sought after by Maoists and in one instance had narrowly escaped being ambushed in November, 2012. He was given Z+ security for his protection.

Karma started his political career as a leader of the Communist Party of India (CPI). In the 1996 general elections, he contested and won as an independent candidate from Bastar.

Later, he joined the Indian National Congress and served as the Minister of Industry and Commerce in Chattisgarh. 

It is believed that the ruling BJP pushed the 'Bastar Tiger' to head Salwa Judum in 2005. He grew famous as he managed to garner support for the movement. As the movement grew, Maoists and Salwa Judum members targeted each other's supporters leading to many deaths.

It was then the Supreme Court ruled against the movement in 2008 and its members were accused of human rights violation. Karma eventually started to lose his shine when the movement was disbanded in 2011.

On 25th May, 2013, Karma met his death when he was returning from a rally with a group of party members. Over 250 naxalites had positioned themselves along the convoy's route.

The naxalites attacked, surrounded and hunted for Karma in each vehicle. He was shot point blank after surrendering.

The final rites of Karma were performed with state honours at his native village in Dantewada district on Tuesday.

Karma's son Chhavindra along with his four brothers lit the funeral pyre.

Union Minister of State for Home R P N Singh and Congress MP Mukul Wasnik were also present at the funeral.

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