Maoist bandh begins; local Congress leader shot dead

Maoist bandh begins; local Congress leader shot dead

Ranchi / Kolkata/ Bhubaneswar: Maoists killed a local Congress leader in Jharkhand’s Garhwa district and injured a jawan of the joint forces in West Bengal’s West Midnapore district as their two-day five-state shutdown began Wednesday.

Forty-five-year-old Bardhan Kachhu, a well-known local tribal leader of Garhwa, was kidnapped from Barkol village hours before the shutdown began at midnight last night and shot dead by the Maoists, Garhwa superintendent of police Richard Lakra said.

Securitymen have launched a combing operation.

The police in Jhargram said Ajay Gupta, a jawan of assistant sub-inspector rank, was critically injured when Maoists fired at a patrol party which was on a routine combing operation in the Birihari forest area.

Gupta was rushed to Midnapore Medical College Hospital in a serious condition.

Security reinforcements were rushed to the area to flush out the Maoists, the police said.

Security has been tightened at all CRPF camps and posts in the Maoist zone of Bankura, Purulia and West Midnapore districts.

The ultras are observing the bandh in Jharkhand, West Bengal, Orissa, Chhatisgarh and Bihar.

In Jharkhand, this was the fifth 48-hour bandh this year which affected mining activity in the mineral-rich state.

To avoid Naxal-pockets, up and down trains of Ranchi-Delhi Swarna Jayanti Express, Ranchi-Varanasi inter-city and Sambalpur-Varanasi inter-city have been diverted through Gomo-Gaya-Mughalsarai route, railway sources said here.

As per a new order, the trains will run at a speed of 65 km in the Naxal-infested areas during nights, the sources said.

In the Maoist belt in West Bengal, life was affected by the shutdown. Though trains were plying, surface transport came to a grinding halt in the area.

In Orissa, the Maoist bandh drew a lukewarm response though government bus services in some areas were suspended as a precautionary measure.

Life remained unaffected across the state including areas affected by the rebels as shops, business outfits, banks, offices, schools and other educational institutions remained open, police said.