Monday, July 20, 2009

Maoist bandh on eclipse day

Sanjay Ojha & Madhuri Kumar, TNN 21 July 2009, 05:55am IST

RANCHI/PATNA: Red terror seems to have cast a shadow on the century's most spectacular celestial event with Maoists calling a bandh on Wednesday in

areas of four states, including Bihar's Taregna and Jharkhand's Daltonganj which have been identified by NASA as the best places to view the total solar eclipse.

A number of people who had planned to visit Palamu on the day of solar eclipse have now decided to cancel their trip. They are afraid to move in Maoist-hit Palamu area of the state.

Krishna Kanhaiya Pandey, a bank employee, said that he had taken a day's leave from office to visit Daltongunj to see the rare celestial phenomenon. "Now I have changed my mind and instead I will watch it on television," said Pandey.

Hemendra Mehta, a businessman, has also cancelled his programme fearing Maoist bandh. "I know that the Maoists will not target private cars, but there is every possibility of attack on public transport if they violet the bandh call. It is better to stay at home and enjoy watching solar eclipse on television," he said.

Taregna, 35 km from Patna, also falls under the Maoist-affected Masaurhi sub-division.

"The administration has made adequate security arrangements at Taregna to counter the Naxal threat," Patna DM Jitendra Kumar Sinha said on Monday. SSP R Mallar Vizhi added adequate forces have been deployed at the site where top scientists and researchers from across the country besides VIPs and mediamen are scheduled to gather to view the rare sight.

Forces have also been deployed on both the road links between Patna and Taregna. "We have made foolproof traffic arrangements as well," the DM said.

As there is space constraint on the rooftop of the Taregna Referral Hospital from where the eclipse can be best viewed, the administration has provided limited number of passes to mediamen.

The Maoist bandh has been called in Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa and West Bengal in protest against hike in prices of petrol, potato and other essential commodities. Jailed Maoists will stage a dharna on the day against the N-deal, a Maoist release said.

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