Patna: Maoist insurgents blew up a railway station and tracks in two Indian states on Sunday, severely disrupting the eastern rail network. Thankfully, the day-long strike called by the rebels had limited impact, officials said.
In Bihar, guerrillas set fire to about a dozen lorries, blocked highways and attacked a police patrol, killing three people, including one officer.
Late on Saturday, rebels distributed a leaflet announcing a strike in retaliation for the arrest of people police said were connected to the insurgency, but whom Maoists said were civilians with no ties to the movement.
“We will continue our strategy to fight the Maoist menace despite these attacks,” said Pravin Vashisth, a senior Bihar police officer.
Maoists say they are fighting for the rights of poor peasants and landless labourers and routinely call strikes, attack government property and target local politicians.
Their influence has been growing and now stretches across large parts of rural eastern and southern India. In the eastern state of Jharkhand, separate groups of Maoist insurgents blew up a rail station in Palamu district and railway tracks in two other districts, forcing the cancellation or diversion of dozens of trains, railway officials said.
In neighbouring Bihar, rebel groups blew up a long stretch of track in Gaya district, officials said, forcing authorities to cancel many long-distance trains.
They also set fire to 14 trucks on a national highway close to state capital, Patna, and attacked police in Gaya.
“Hundreds of them fired and ambushed a police party patrolling a highway,” Baliram Chaudhary, a senior police officer said by telephone from Gaya.
Thousands of people have been killed since they began their insurgency in the late 1960s in a town called Naxalbari in West Bengal state. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called rebels the biggest challenge to the country’s internal security.