Maoist strike hits train, bus movement in six states (Roundup)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

KOLKATA/HYDERABAD/RAIPUR - Trains were cancelled, buses went off the roads and Chattisgarh’s iron ore transportation was disrupted as Maoists began a two-day shutdown in six states Wednesday to protest the killing of their spokesperson Chelukuri Rajkumar alias Azad.

There were, however, no reports of any violence from the states where the shutdown made an impact ranging from total to partial.

Seven trains were cancelled and five diverted in Jharkhand in view of the shutdown. The cancelled trains include Palamau Express, Barwadih-Dehri Asansol Express, Tata-Kharagpur Express and Chakradharpur-Gomo Express, a railway official said.

“Adequate security arrangements have been made. Alert has been sounded in Maoist-affected areas,” Jharkhand police spokesperson V.H. Deshmukh told IANS.

In West Bengal, normal life was hit in tribal-dominated areas of three districts - West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia.

The shutdown was total in West Midnapore district’s tribal-populated areas like Binpur, Goaltore, Lalgarh and Salboni, said Deputy Superintendent of Police (Operation) Aneesh Sarkar.

Government offices were closed and buses and cars kept off roads. Some business establishments were, however, open in Jhargram town, Sarkar said.

South Eastern Railway sources said that though local train movement continued unhindered, some long distance trains, including the Tata Steel Express, were cancelled.

In Bankura, the strike affected areas bordering West Midnapore like Sarenga and Barikul, a police official said. In Purulia district, villages near Ayodhya Hills were adversely hit. Road traffic was stalled and markets were closed, said Superintendent of Police Rajesh Yadav.

The shutdown hit life in Chhattisgarh’s vast interiors, particularly in the Bastar region where iron ore transportation was hindered.

In the 40,000 sq km Maoist stronghold of Bastar, weekly markets were deserted and transporters kept their vehicles off roads fearing attacks, an official told IANS.

“Rebels placed heavy wooden logs in jungle roads of Bijapur, Kanker and Dantewada,” he said.

Key roads like the Narayanpur-Orchha road in Narayanpur district, Pakhanjoor and Bhanupratappur in Kanker district were blocked.

Transportation of iron ore by India’s largest public sector iron ore producer and exporter NMDC Ltd, from its Bailadila facilities in Dantewada district, was affected as rail rakes were not available.

In Andhra Pradesh, the shutdown evoked partial response. Life was affected in Maoist-infested tribal areas in districts bordering Orissa and Chhattisgarh as authorities suspended bus services and cancelled few trains as a precautionary measure.

The call also evoked partial response in remote areas of Adilabad district, where Chelukuri Rajkumar alias Azad was killed by police in an alleged gunfight last week. The response, however, was poor in other parts of Telangana, once a stronghold of Maoists.

Police sounded a high alert in areas bordering Orissa and Chhattisgarh borders in view of the warning by intelligence agencies that Maoists could carry out attacks to avenge the killing of their top leader.

In Bihar too, five trains were cancelled and buses went off roads.

“Hundreds of passengers cancelled their tickets in the last one day,” said an official at the Patna railway junction.

Some long-route buses stopped plying in rural areas fearing violence.

Rural markets in Gaya, Aurangabad, Jehanabad and Arwal were closed.

Road and rail services were hit in Orissa’s interiors as well.

“Traffic was thin in some areas of Malkangiri and Rayagada districts as heavy vehicles went off roads. Government buses did not ply in Rayagada district,” a police official told IANS.

The movement of vehicles in parts of Kandhamal district was disrupted as rebels blocked roads by felling trees, he said.

Maoists are active in more than half of Orissa. The worst-hit districts include Malkangiri, Rayagada and Gajapati in the south and Deogarh and Sambalpur in the west.

Filed under: Terrorism

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