Saturday, February 27, 2010

Poor response to 24-hr rebel bandh

- Buses off roads, but trains normal

A security personnel on guard during the bandh on NH 33 on Saturday.

Ranchi/Jamshedpur, Feb. 27: The 24-hour Maoist-sponsored bandh passed off peacefully today.

No untoward incident was reported from across the state, though vehicles remained off the highways. Train services remained normal, barring one cancellation in the Chakradharpur division.

The bandh failed to make an impact even in Palamau division. The village haats remained busy with crowds indulging in last-minute holi shopping. It was as if the villagers were not even aware of the bandh.

Director-general of police Neyaz Ahmed maintained that no major untoward had been reported from any part of the state. He added that necessary precautions had been taken to meet any eventuality.

This was the third time bandh call by the rebels in less than two months. The Maoists had called a 24-hour bandh on January 2 and then a 72-hour bandh on February 7. Rail property became soft targets during these bandhs.

The failure of today’s bandh gave rise to speculation that the rebel outfits may have started losing mass support and that the police were also achieving strategic success.

The DGP, however, did not dwell at length on the success of his men. “We are using our available resources. We have also learnt lessons from our past mistakes. Let us hope for the best,” was all he said.

The Tata-Badampahar passenger was the only train to be cancelled today in view of the bandh. Tatanagar railway authorities said the train was cancelled as it runs through several Naxalite pockets on its way to Badampahar. Elaborate security arrangements had been made in Chakradharpur rail division to prevent the rebels from destroying railway property.

One person was arrested by the Gumla police today with a large haul of explosives. The explosives were reportedly meant for rebel leaders and had been smuggled out of Hindalco’s bauxite mines.

According to Gumla police superintendent Narendra Kumar Singh, 60 detonators, 150 boxes of explosives and over 1,000 metres of safety fuse wire were recovered from a house during raids in Bhains Bathan village, under Ghaghra police station, about 105km from the state capital. One Etwa Oraon (25) was arrested in this connection.

Singh maintained that Oraon was closely associated with Maoist sub-zonal commander Nakul Yadav. The explosives were likely to be used for disruptive activities during the bandh.

The role of a mining official was also under the scanner. Senior officials, however, refused to divulge more details, arguing that it would affect investigations.

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