Maoists observe bandh in Jharkhand and Orissa
Ranchi/Bhubaneswar, Oct 14: Maoists set fire to a middle school and a four-wheeler at Palamau during its 24-hour bandh on Saturday in Jharkhand, while in Orissa, where too they had called for a general strike, it came a cropper.
Bhubaneswar was under tight security cover with Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat on a two-day visit to the city.
Palamau police said a group of Maoists went to the school situated at Ticivar village under Bishrampur Police Station in the district and asked the students and teachers to vacate it before setting fire to it.
In a separate incident at Padva under Patan Police Station, the extremists set a taxi on fire after asking the occupants to alight.
The Maoists under the aegis of the Revolutionary Democratic Front observed the bandh in Jharkhand, Orissa and Chhatisgarh to protest the arrest of three cadres, including a front-line woman extremist by Orissa Police.
The bandh failed to affect normal life in urban and semi-urban areas of Jharkhand but long distance bus services in Hazaribag, Palamau and Garwah were hit, official sources said.
Praveen Singh, Superintendent of Police of Hazaribag, a Maoist-stronghold, said special task force and the CRPF have been patrolling the area since midnight last night, particularly Icchak Ghati, Charhi Ghati and Hazaribag-Vishnugarh Road.
Apprehending that landmines might have been planted, the security forces were searching culverts and bridges, he said.
Pilot engines are patrolling railway tracks in the Naxal-infested areas, the police said.
A high alert was sounded and security tightened in Orissa districts where Maoists are known to be active, DIG of Police (Western Range) Styajit Mohanty said.
The bandh had little impact in the districts of Sundargarh and Keonjhar bordering Jharkhand, he said.
Reports said the bandh had little effect in the Maoist-infested western districts of Sambalpur and Deogarh and southern districts of Malkangiri, Koraput, Rayagada and Gajapati.
However, vehicular traffic in Motu and Kalimela areas of Malkangiri was thin due to the tension there following the gunning down of a village head at MV-66 under Kalimela Police Station by the Maoists yesterday.
Orissa police had arrested Sobha alias Shiela alias Budhuni Munda, a member of the CPI (Maoist) central committee along with two others at Ramjodi near Lathikata in Sundargarh district on Saturday last week. They have been remanded to police custody for a week by a local court.