Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Bank winds up ops after Naxal attack

Sanjay Ojha, TNN, 3 February 2010, 03:42am IST

KARA (JHARKHAND): In a first in Jharkhand, suspected Maoists forced a nationalized bank to close a branch in a remote village in the guerrilla-infested jungles reportedly after it refused to oblige applicants seeking loan for purchasing arms.

The Birda branch of Bank of India was shifted 10 km away and merged with the branch at the block headquarters at Kara in Khunti district after four Maoists forcefully entered the Birda premises and thrashed the staff. The incident took place in October last year.

However, the information trickled out this week after authorities at the bank’s zonal office at Ranchi took the decision after Birda branch manager B P Singh and four other staff pleaded to them to save their lives.

‘‘The Maoists mercilessly assaulted one of our employees, Som Manjhi. He fell unconscious. They then ordered the branch manager to disburse the loans if he cared for his life,’’ a senior bank official told TOI on Tuesday.

Manjhi is still scared. ‘‘I don’t know what transpired between the manager and the Maoists. I had fallen unconscious after I was beaten by the Maoists,’’ said Manjhi who now works at the bank’s Kara branch.

Another bank officer, preferring anonymity, said around 25 villagers applied for loan to purchase arms for self defence. ‘‘We suspect they were prompted by Maoists so that they could supply at least cartridges to the guerrillas,’’ he said.

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