Suspected Maoists exploded bombs on railway tracks at two places in West Bengal’s Purulia district in the early hours of Saturday, during the all-India bandh they called in protest against the arrest of Chhatradhar Mahato, convener of the Maoist-backed Police Santrash Birodhi Janasadharaner Committee.
Even as top Maoist leaders claimed that the bandh was a success, police said that in West Bengal the effect was “diluted.”
Sources in the South Eastern Railways (SER) said train services were disrupted on the Rourkela-Chakradharpur section and the Chandil-Purulia section following bomb blasts on tracks in two locations.
A statement released by the SER authorities said that about 10 metre of track was damaged in the Chakradharpur division and two metre of track was damaged in the Adra division. Several trains were delayed while some were short-terminated and some diverted.
At least 17 trains, including the Howrah-Bilaspur-New Delhi Rajdhani Express, Mumbai-Howrah Geetanjali Express, Mumbai-Howrah Mail, Howrah-Ahmedabad Express and Bhubaneswar-Ranchi Garib Rath Express, were delayed by an average of four hours.
Train services resumed at 7.05 a.m. and normalised by 12.05 p.m., SER sources said.
The bandh had a partial effect in the areas adjacent to forest lands in the three districts of Paschim Medinipur, Purulia and Bankura in West Bengal, areas where the Maoists have a strong presence.
Since it was the day of Lakshmi Puja in the State and also a weekend, several offices and schools remained shut and the effect of the bandh was not felt.
There was no news of any fresh violence in the Lalgarh region of Paschim Medinipur district.
Inspector General (Law and Order) Surajit Kar Purakayastha told The Hindu that the effect was “much more diluted than the last few Maoist bandhs.” “The effect was somewhat felt in the Khatra area of Bankura district and some areas in Purulia.
The bandh’s effect was very limited,” Mr. Purakayastha said, adding that no arrest was made on Saturday.
Communist Party of India (Maoist) Polit Bureau member Kishanji, however, claimed that the bandh was “largely successful in several States of the country.”
Claiming responsibility for the Purulia rail track blasts and asserting that the three districts in West Bengal witnessed “complete shutdown,” Mr. Kishanji told The Hindu: “The bandh was successful in most parts of Bihar, Jharkhand and Orissa and in certain districts of Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.”