Kolkata / Ranchi: Maoists triggered an explosion along a railway track in West Bengal and blew up a road bridge in Jharkhand as the 48-hour bandh called by them in seven states to protest anti-Naxal operations commenced on Monday.
The ultras triggered the blast alongside the railway track at Bhalukhunia between Midnapore and Godapia Sal stations in Bengal’s West Midnapore district early on Monday, officials said.
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District magistrate N S Nigam said train services were affected for three hours in the morning following the blast as checks were conducted on the track by railway officials.
In separate incidents, over 20 Maoists stormed Bagjhappa village in the district and set ablaze a CPI(M) office on Sunday night.
Two CPI(M) supporters were also beaten up by the group following which they were admitted to a hospital at Jhargram. The houses of two party supporters were also set on fire in nearby Chakua village.
Maoist posters, asking the security forces to stop the operation against them and seeking development of the Jangalmahal area, were seized by police at Dumuria village bordering Jharkhand on Monday.
“Through such incidents, the Maoists are trying to divert the attention of the combined forces engaged in the combing operation to flush out the Maoists from the Jangalmahal area,” Nigam said.
The bandh call has been given by the Maoists in the states of Jharkhand, Bihar, Orissa, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh and three districts of Maharashtra to protest ‘Operation Green Hunt’ against the Maoists.
A report from Jamshedpur, quoting the police, said Maoists triggered a landmine blast blowing up a road bridge in Jharkhand just before the two-day bandh commenced.
The damaged bridge is located between Raipahari and Kurlisuta villages under Jharkhand’s Ghatsila sub-division.
The bandh did not affect normal life in the urban pockets of Ranchi, Jamshedpur and Dhanbad though it evoked a mixed response in some areas.
Majority of shops and markets downed their shutters in Dumaria, Ghorabandha and Potka in east Singhbhum, Nimdih and Chowka in Saraikela-Kharswan and Manoharpur, Sonua and Bandgaon in West Singhbhum districts.
While long distance buses remained off the road, commercial vehicles were plying in depleted strength in the rural pockets of Naxal-affected areas.
Railway services between Garwah Road-Barkakhana route under Dhanbad division of east central railway were also affected as several trains were cancelled or diverted in view of the bandh, railway sources said.
No untoward incident was reported from any part of the state so far, police said, adding an elaborate security arrangement had been put in place to meet any eventuality during the bandh.
Apart from the state police force, para-military forces and Railway Protection Force have been deployed to protect vital installations, the sources said.
A report from Rourkela said movement of goods trains operating from the Kalta iron ore mines in Orissa had been stopped as a precautionary measure in view of the bandh.
The bandh also had a mixed response in the southern Orissa districts of Koraput, Rayagada, Nabarangpur and Malkangiri. All buses plying through Malkangiri district had been withdrawn by the operators following the bandh, official sources said.
Mining operation and transportation of iron ore and coal were affected in Sundergarh district following the suspension of goods trains from Rourkela to Barsuan and Bimlagarh as a precautionary measure.
The only passenger train running from Biramitrapur to Barsuan and Bimlagarh via Rourkela was suspended for two days.
Vehicular movement was also hit in the Naxal-affected districts of Malkangiri, Koraput, Sundargarh, Gajapati and Rayagada with the rebels blocking roads by felling trees and placing boulders.
Students appearing in exams faced hardship in reaching their centres as buses and other vehicles did not ply in these areas. A large number of passengers were stranded at different places.
Electricity supply was disrupted in most parts of Malkangiri district as huge trees cut by Maoists snapped transmission lines from Balimela in the wee hours.
The road between Motu and Malkangiri was also blocked by the Maoists, the police said.
A Maoist, identified as Bimal Munda (30), was arrested from Topadihi in Sundargarh district, the police said.
The ultras burnt tyres and put up posters at Roxy town in support of their bandh call.
Normal life in Roxy, Kalta, Koida and K Balang was affected following closure of shops and other small business establishments.