Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Maoists virtually rule the roost in Jharkhand areas

Sujay Mehdudia

Red Brigade calls for State-wide bandh and poll boycott


Security forces are being deployed intensively

Poll panel have deployed micro-observers


DHANBAD: The fear of violence looms over the second-phase polls in Jharkhand on April 23. The Communist Party of India (Maoists) has now given a call for a Jharkhand Bandh on April 22 to protest the alleged killing of civilians by the Central Reserve Police Force on April 15 in Latehar district.

In an early warning sign to voters and the security forces, Maoists blew up a school building on Monday. At Khukhra village under Pirtand police station in Giridih district, they left notes asking the people to boycott the polls.

The Red Brigade is asserting itself in the Santhal-Pargana tribal belt and parts of Chotta Nagpur by calling for a boycott of voting in eight Lok Sabha constituencies. Maoist graffiti is found at major points in villages. Posters ask the people not to vote and warn of consequences for those who defy the diktat.

The security forces are on tenterhooks following the bandh-boycott call. The forces are being deployed intensively but the numbers involved have not been disclosed.

The Election Commission is understood to have deployed micro-observers and asked for an enhanced security presence in the troubled areas. The forces have been told not to move in heavy vehicles, and to walk to polling stations from their camps for fear of landmines on roads.

In the Giridih constituency, security officials are alarmed by the proliferation of posters and graffiti, and distribution of leaflets, by the Maoists in nearly 17 panchayat areas of Pirtand block. One of the wall writings in a government middle school on Dimri-Giridih roads asks villagers to boycott polls. In Madhuban town even temples sport posters and banners. The Maoists have told candidates not to campaign. Although village residents acknowledge the Maoist threat, they are reluctant to discuss it.

The situation is similar in parts of the Dumka, Dhanbad and Singhbhum Lok Sabha constituencies: the Red Brigade virtually rules the roost here. Armed Maoists unleashed violence in Jharkhand on April 15, the day before the first phase of parliamentary elections. They attacked camps of the BSF and ambushed a bus, killing seven people.

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