The 72-hour bandh called by the Maoist-backed Police Santrash Birodhi Janasadharaner Committee (PSBJC) in Jhargram sub-division of West Bengal’s Paschim Medinipur district began on Thursday on a violent note with the outfit’s supporters setting a pick-up van afire.

According to police sources, there was a fierce gun-battle between security forces and the Maoists at Bakshi village in the Kotwali area of Lalgarh region during the day in which one villager reportedly suffered a bullet injury.

The bandh was called in protest against alleged high-handedness of security forces on PSBJC supporters at a rally in front of the office of Jhargram’s Sub-Divisional Officer. Protestors torched the pick-up van at Sapdhara near Jhargram early in the day and left posters demanding withdrawal of Central security forces from the region as well as immediate release of all PSBJC leaders including Chhatradhar Mahato.

According to P. Ulganathan, Jhargram’s SDO, the sub-division witnessed a “complete shutdown though there was no other incident of violence other than the torching of the pick-up van”.

“Though certain rumours about rallies and road blockades put up by the PSBJC supporters came in during the day, they were subsequently proved wrong. Prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC have been imposed,” Mr. Ulganathan told The Hindu over phone from Jhargram.

Meanwhile, the series of bandhs either called by the Maoists or the PSBJC are hampering the progress of development projects undertaken in the region by the State Government.

Though Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee during his visit to the district on November 7-8 called for speedy implementation of all development projects, a senior bureaucrat with the State Government’s Public Health Engineering department told The Hindu that the “terror factor and the continuous disruptions due to bandhs and blockades are slowing down the pace of progress”.