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Maoist violence continues unabated
Published on 13 Oct. 2009 11:51 PM IST
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Blasting rail tracks and phone towers, bombing a bus as well as schools, Maoist guerrillas Tuesday unleashed a wave of violence in Bihar and Jharkhand as well as Gadchiroli in Maharashtra where assembly elections were disrupted because people were too scared to vote. The violence by Left extremists continued unabated Tuesday, day two of their strike in Jharkhand, Bihar, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal to protest the Indian government’s decision to step up operations against them. Train traffic was disrupted and thousands of passengers inconvenienced. While Chhattisgarh and West Bengal were peaceful, the strike in Bihar impacted rural areas but left the cities unaffected. Jharkhand was badly hit with rail and bus services disrupted, as well as the movement of coal and other mining activities, the backbone of the state’s economy. As the situation appeared to spiral out of control with fresh incidents of Maoist violence every day, officials in New Delhi reiterated that they would wait for the assembly elections results before taking any action - results to the the Arunachal Pradesh, Maharashtra and Haryana poll will be announced Oct 22. “After the assembly elections we will mount a big offensive and pump in around 70,000 paramilitary forces to tackle the Maoists,” said an official. In Jharkhand, the day began with a government run school in Nawadih in Chatra district being blown up. “Maoists also blasted the railway track between Mackluskiganj and Mahua Milan railway stations causing derailment of a goods train,” Amrendra Das, public relations officer of Dhanbad railway division, told IANS. The night before, Maoist guerrillas had blasted the rail tracks between Dania and Jogehswar railway stations in the Dhanbad railway division. Train services in the area came to a standstill with 13 trains impacted. In Hazaribagh, passengers going from Kolkata to Ajmer Sharif in Rajasthan had a narrow escape when Maoists attacked their bus. Police said the guerrillas tried to stop the bus at Dumri but the driver moved on, provoking indiscriminate firing. The Left extremists then hurled a bomb at the bus, leading to nine passengers being injured. Monday night had also seen three mobile phone towers blown up in Toto village of Gumla district and one tower in Chando village in Palamau district. In Bihar, the modus operandi was similar. The outlawed Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) attacked a railway station, set ablaze a cabin room, blasted a rail track, a government office and a mobile phone tower. Heavily armed guerrillas, officials said, attacked the Banshipur railway station in Lakhisarai, ransacked its office and set it ablaze late Monday. They also held about half-a dozen railway officials, including the station master, hostage for over an hour. “Maoists damaged the control panel and burnt official documents and tickets,” said an official. They also blew up a rail track in Jamui district and the Sangrampur block development office in Munger district Monday night. Earlier, Maoists had blown up a mobile phone tower in Aurangabad district and one in Shergati in Gaya. Trouble in Gadchiroli, Maharashtra, began even before polling started. Gunshots were heard in two areas in Gadchiroli, where a group of 150 rebels had killed 17 policemen last week. “Polling had not been taken up till 2 p.m. in 11 polling stations of Aheri and Armori constituencies, both in Gadchiroli,” the official told IANS. Though election officials and security personnel were present, the voters - mainly tribals - did not feel safe enough to venture out of their homes to go to the polling stations, he said. There were no casualties but the gunfire struck fear. Security was further tightened. On Monday, Director General of Police (Anti-Corruption Bureau) A.N. Roy warned that they had intelligence reports indicating that Maoists had infiltrated into Maharashtra from neighbouring states to foment trouble during the elections.

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