Sunday, November 29, 2009

More attacks as Naxal threat curbs campaigning

A school building blown up by Maoists in Pipara village of Palamau district on Sunday

Manoj Prasad Posted online: Monday , Nov 30, 2009 at 0412 hrs

Ranchi : Bablu, who drives Congress candidate Ram Dayal Munda through Tamar (ST) constituency, is scared. On Sunday afternoon, Maoists set afire a vehicle used by the Congress for campaigning and mercilessly beat up the driver, who was later hospitalised. As 70-year-old Munda comes out of his residence for campaigning, Bablu prays for their safe return in the evening. Munda and his rival JD(U) candidate Raja Peter have both kept electioneering limited to market places and residential areas along the road and avoided the interiors.

The two-day bandh called by the CPI(Maoist), to press for the production of their South Chotanagpur Zonal Committee member Ashok Mahato in the court, began at 12 am on Sunday with the Maoists triggering blasts that damaged the single room building of Mahubuang railway station in Simdega as well as the railway tracks, informed Inspector General V H Deshmukh.

In the wee hours, the Maoists triggered another blast, blowing up a stretch of railway track between Jageshwar and Dania railway stations in Bokaro district with the electric wire falling on the track. As a result, trains between Hatia and Pathankot, Howrah and Bokaro, Howrah and New Delhi were left stranded at different railway stations.

By late afternoon, the track and electric wire were repaired and the traffic resumed, said Additional DGP (Rail) Kumud Choudhary. “Now, almost all trains are being escorted by the security forces,” she said.

While in Palamau, Maoists used a landmine to blow up a panchayat and school building meant to lodge security forces, in East Singhbhum’s Amjore village, they blasted a bomb when a commuter attempted to remove a tree trunk from the road. “The tree trunk was kept by the extremists to block the traffic,” said East Singhbhum SP Naveen Kumar Singh.

All roads crisscrossing the state, including the National Highway, wore a deserted look as both public and private bus services were withdrawn as a precautionary move. Even the loading and transportation of coal in the public sector coal companies, CCL, ECL and BCCL, were paralysed.

Reports reaching here said life was paralysed in all the poll bound 15 constituencies. The bandh will conclude on Monday when the deadline for electioneering in the second phase ends.

Although both Munda and Peter are known for their anti-Naxalite stance, none of them have uttered a word against them. “We are contesting the election on the development plank,” said Munda. The going is tough for Munda, who is being projected as the Congress’s chief ministerial candidate by a section of the party. He is faced with a keen contest from Peter and All Jharkhand Students’ Union nominee Vikas Singh Munda, son of JD(U) MLA Ramesh Singh Munda who was gunned down by the Maoists in 2007.

Even Peter and Vikas have adopted development of Tamar as their planks. “Without electricity, water, road, education and healthcare, it is like living in the Stone Age. If voted to power I will usher in change,” said Peter. Belonging to the Patar community, Peter is banking on a split in Munda’s votes because 13 of the 17 candidates in the fray belong to the Munda tribe who constitute more than 60 per cent of 1,68,841 votes in Tamar. Peter is seeking re-election. He had defeated JMM president Shibu Soren in the bypolls last year.

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