Ranchi, Aug. 1: Are “Maoist bandhs” going to boomerang on them?
There were signs of exasperation today among people and political parties over the trend of rebels calling for a bandh every time some of their leaders are arrested.
And possibly for the first time, mainstream parties, mainly the Left, publicly criticised the Maoists for causing suffering to the people.
Attacks on railway stations and buses are an attack on the people, declared CPI central committee member Khagendra Thakur. He used even more strong words in voicing his doubt whether the rebels are “Maoists” or “anti-social elements”. CPI(ML) leader Vinod Singh chipped in by stating that such violence and paralysing bus and rail movement cannot win for the rebels any public sympathy.
“Can the Maoists name a single village under their control where there is no corruption or where people have job-guarantee,” fumed Singh, who declared that Maoists no longer enjoy public sympathy. “Had it been so, people would have taken to streets — they would not have used guns to enforce the bandh,” he added.
Singh seemed to have a point as the rebels shot dead a poor truck driver, Anuj Paswan, transporting bauxite from Chhattisgarh to Garhwa. They also opened fire on passenger buses and private vehicles in the small hours of today, injuring as many as 16 people.
Rebel activities, however, remained confined to the old Palamau district. The pattern indicated that nobody is in control of the rebels in the region after the arrest at Patna of three of their leaders, Madan Pal, Kiran and Naveen.
The rebels tried to low up, and damaged, one of the oldest forest bungalows at Maromar and ransacked two railway stations in Latehar. The cabin rooms were damaged and records, telephones, track and signal changing systems etc were destroyed by the rebels at Bendi and Demu stations before they melted into the forest. Said CPM state secretary J.S. Mazumdar: “The rebels do not care for public sympathy. They just want to unleash a reign of terror and want to grab power at gun-point.”
Three private buses, two from Bihar and one from Raipur in Chhattisgarh, were fired upon in Ranka. Three bullets hit one of the drivers, Arvind Pandey. He and one Mahmud Khan were shifted to Ranchi as their conditions were stated to be critical.
The bandh hit normal life in the rural areas and it was the common man who suffered in the absence of buses and trains. Over 1,500 buses remained off the roads, confirmed the Jharkhand Bus Owners’ Association. Even state transport buses chose to remain in the garage.
At both Jamshedpur and Ranchi, passengers could be seen grumbling. Kaushal Singh, travelling from Raipur to Hazaribagh, got stranded at Jamshedpur while Manoj Kumar fumed that he had to miss an important meeting at Dhanbad. The Mango bus stand wore a deserted look with no buses plying between Jamshedpur and Ranchi either.
At Ranchi, autorickshaws had a field day, fleecing passengers. Ujjwal Das was asked to shell out Rs 30 for a seat while Sanjay Dhanuka chose to hire an autorickshaw at Rs 400 to carry him to Ramgarh. “Trekkers normally charge Rs 40,” he rued.
Patients discharged from RIMS and those who had come to Ranchi to consult physicians were stranded at the Ranchi railway station because all local trains were cancelled.