An explosives container weighing 45 kg was found beneath a metalled road near Ranchi 10 days ago by a team of the Jharkhand police and the Central Reserve Police Force.
Citing this as an example of how far Maoist influence has spread in terms of carrying out sabotage, IG (operations) DK Pandey said investigations showed the container was slipped in when the road was being laid. “The contractor is being prosecuted,” he said.
On June 13 last year, Maoists triggered landmine and bomb blasts in a Bokaro suburb in Jharkhand, killing 10 policemen and injuring several. This came three days after 10 policemen were killed in a landmine blast in West Singbhum district.
One aspect common to both incidents was that explosives were planted under the roads when they were being laid. In Bokaro, the road was a smooth metalled one on which hundreds of cars plied every day.
“There have been many cases where we have found that explosives were planted when the roads were being laid,” Pandey said, adding that the police had prosecuted a couple of contractors for “negligence” and “connivance”.
Subodh Prasad, a Jharkhand cadre Indian Police Service officer who has served in districts disturbed by Maoist activities, said the ultras commanded the allegiance of a vast majority of the rural population.
“It’s difficult to identify people who work under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme by day and turn Maoists by night,” he said. “No road in the Maoist heartland is safe.”
Maoist sources told HT that in the reserved Saranda forest, spread over three districts of Jharkhand and Orissa, the red brigade has planted several thousand pressure bombs and landmines beneath unmetalled and metalled roads. Three massacres have taken place in this forest in eight years, killing 70 security personnel.
Gag order on internal security
The government has decided that the home ministry alone will speak on internal security matters. Cabinet secretary KM Chandrashekhar made this clear in a letter to all ministers and secretaries sent on Saturday. This comes after the army and air force chiefs expressed views on the use of armed forces in anti-Naxal operations, following last week’s massacre of 76 troops in Chhattisgarh. Some ministers aired opinions on related issues too. HTC