In May 2013, Maoist insurgents attacked a convoy of Congress leaders in Chhattisgarh. At least 27 people were killed, including the party’s top state leaders. The attack took place during the tenure of the BJP government led by chief minister Raman Singh. After the incident, the Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said, “It is not a simple attack. It is a political conspiracy.” He added, “Some forces don’t want Congress to come back to power.”
On receiving a report from the state government after the attack, the home ministry handed over the investigation to the National Investigation Agency, a central counter-terrorism agency under the ministry. Five years later, in December 2018, the Congress won the Chhattisgarh assembly elections. On 18 December, hours after taking charge as the state’s chief minister, Bhupesh Baghel announced the constitution of a special investigation team to further probe the Maoist attack. Referring to the incident as a “criminal political conspiracy,” he said, “The conspirators have not been exposed. No such massacre of politicians ever took place in history. To catch the culprits, SIT has been formed.”
But the central government refused to transfer the case to the state government. In a letter to the Chhattisgarh government, on 8 February 2019, the home ministry said that the NIA had already filed a chargesheet and the trial was ongoing. In August this year, two survivors of the attack, Vivek Bajpai and Daulat Rohra, filed a writ petition in the Chhattisgarh high court, challenging the centre’s refusal to transfer the investigation. Bajpai is the current secretary of the Congress’s state unit. The survivors requested the court to examine the entire records of the case. In September, the high court issued notices to the union government and the NIA, asking them to respond to the petition.