Thursday, February 21, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

Maoists gun down four, burn engine
Bandh hits life in Jharkhand, Bihar

Stranded buses at Ranchi Birsa Bus Stand
Stranded buses at Ranchi Birsa Bus Stand during the bandh in Ranchi on Wednesday.
— PTI photo

Ranchi, February 20
Maoist Communist Centre (MCC) activists gunned down four persons, forcibly derailed an express train and burnt down a train engine and several vehicles in widespread violence during the 24-hour bandh called by the outlawed organisation disrupting train and bus services in parts of Jharkhand and Bihar leaving hundreds of passengers stranded.

Two truck drivers, a casual labourer and the owner of a stone crusher were killed and six others seriously injured when the ultras numbering over 200 opened indiscriminate fire on a large convoy of vehicles after blocking the Patna-Ranchi national highway in Hazaribagh district in Jharkhand.

There were no casualties when 12 coaches of the Hatia-Patna express train jumped the tracks after the engine ploughed into wooden sleepers put on the tracks by suspected MCC ultras.

In a separate incident, an engine and a coach of Barkakana-Mughalsarai passenger train were burnt by the ultras at Hendegir station under Dhanbad division.

Jharkhand Chief Minister Babulal Marandi said here that the bandh had no “effect” on the state and whatever incidents happened were “routine”.

An incident of an assistant station master and another railway employee being kidnapped before being released was also reported from Singbhum district. They were kidnapped for allowing trains to pass through during the time of the bandh.

Due to the bandh call, the national and state highways criss-crossing the extremist-hit districts of Hazaribagh, Giridih, Palamu, Chatra, Garhwa, Lohardagga in Jharkhand and Gaya, Jehanabad, Aurangabad and Bhojpur in Bihar wore a deserted look as transport operators suspended their bus and truck services.

The MCC called the bandh in Bihar and Jharkhand in protest against the promulgation of the  Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance (POTO). The PWG has supported the call. The two organisations were among the first to have been banned under the ordinance.

The CCL authorities here said that the transportation and despatch of coal from its mines was badly affected as the truckers were refusing to operate in view of the early morning killing.

Railway sources said train services were badly paralysed on the Gaya-Dhanbad grand chord, Garhwa Road-Chopan, Garhwa Road-Dehri-on-Sone, and Barkakana-Garhwa road sections due to the bandh.

Hundreds of passengers were stranded at stations in Gaya, Palamu, Garhwa, Hazaribagh, Dhanbad and Giridih districts as several trains including Shaktipunj Express, Tata-Amritsar Express, Gomo-Chopan passenger and down Shaktipunj Express, up and down Barwadih-Mughalsarai passenger trains were controlled at different stations as a precautionary measure.

While life was reported to be normal in all towns of Bihar where the ultras did not venture out, it was affected in parts of the state where Naxalites are active. In Patna all private schools were closed.

According to IG (Operations), Neelmani, alert policemen averted a major disaster by tracing bags of explosives on the railway track between Ismailpur and Guraru stations in Gaya district which were later defused.

The ultras also opened fire at a truck injuring the driver and cleaner at Mok village under Tekari police station in the same district. PTIBack

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