Security personnel take steam off Maoist bandh


Shutdown over Naxal leader killing peaceful;
bus, train services hit

Kolkata/Bhubaneswar/Raipur, July 7

Train and bus services were affected today in some areas in states affected by Naxal violence on the first day of the two-day Maoist bandh which disrupted normal life in rural and interior pockets.

No untoward incident has so far been reported from any part of the states where the situation remained peaceful, according to reports reaching various state capitals. The bandh had little impact in urban areas. Security personnel were on high alert following the call given for the 'Bharat bandh' by Maoists in protest against the killing of a top Naxal leader Azad alias Cherukuri Raj Kumar on July 1 in Adilabad in Andhra Pradesh.

Strict vigil was maintained in Orissa, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh and parts of Maharashtra, the regions worst affected by Naxal violence.

With trains becoming a soft target for the Maoists, security was tightened at stations and patrolling of tracks intensified in Maoist-hit areas. Arrangements were made to ensure safety of train passengers and rail property since there was a "credible threat" from the Maoists to Railway assets.

Special task forces were kept on stand-by to meet any eventuality while some trains were being bunched escorted by pilot engines, a Railway official said. Speed restrictions have also been put in place. In Orissa, government bus services were suspended in Koraput, Malkangiri, Rayagada and Gajapati as a precautionary measure leaving passengers stranded at many places, police said. Private buses also stopped plying in some areas in the fear of a naxal attack.

Trains passing through Maoist-hit areas were cancelled and short terminated on the East Coast Railways (ECoR). But trains on the main Howrah-Mumbai line were running as usual, sources said, adding wherever necessary the trains are running with pilot engine. Passenger bus services were affected particularly on NH-215 passing through Maoist prone areas in Sundargarh and Keonjhar district. Very few trucks were plying, police said. In West Bengal, life in the Maoist-hit areas of West Midnapore, Purulia and Bankura districts was paralysed.

Though all police stations and CRPF camps in the three districts were on high alert, life was crippled in rural areas, while it was normal in urban areas, district police officials said. Life was unaffected in Midnapore town as also in Bankura and Purulia towns, with government offices, courts, shops and markets open with the joint security forces on patrol, the officials said. The picture was just the reverse in rural areas, with roads deserted and shops and markets closed and people staying indoors, the sources said.

South Eastern Railway has deployed Quick Response teams of the GRP, RPF and CRPF on trains and tracks on the Kharagpur-Rourkela and Kharagpur-Adra sections.

Normal life was paralysed and transportation disrupted in Chhattisgarh's Naxal-hit regions.

Vehicles were off the roads in the interior parts and the roads wore a deserted look. The bandh, however, did not impact life in urban areas, officials said. — PTI