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Landmine goes off in Purulia

Purulia, June 7: A landmine yesterday went off on its own — possibly because of the heat — in Purulia, on the border with Naxalite-infested Jharkhand.

“The explosion took place yesterday morning, leaving a huge crater on the road. It is likely that there may be more mines planted in the region,” said superintendent of police V.K. Goyal after a detailed inspection of the area today.

A police jeep was scheduled to pass along the road within hours of the blast near Bansgarh village in Purulia’s Jhalda block.

“Fortunately, no casualties occurred. Splinter samples have been collected for forensic examination. There is no doubt that an extremist outfit had planted the mine. Leaflets distributed by the MCC (Maoist Communist Centre) were found in the villages in the surrounding area,” said Goyal.

The dirt road on which the blast took place passes near the house of Jagadish Tiwary, the landlord who was beheaded on November 26 last year by a group of people led by MCC rebels.

The incident had caused a flutter in the district’s administration and police circles as it was the first time that the Naxalites had come out in the open in Purulia.

The message on Naxalite leaflets said the mines were targeted against the police in retaliation to “the atrocities committed by them in the wake of the Tiwary murder”.

“The incident is very serious and has caused tension in the area,” said district magistrate D.P. Jana.

Tiwary was the most affluent farmer in the area and the MCC had targeted him to trigger panic among the landed class.

The district administration had swung into action and launched a massive confidence-building exercise to win back the trust of the poor farmers and farm labourers. A month after the killing, a “development camp” was organised where assistance and training were imparted to poor farmers.

“Measures are being taken to counter it (the MCC). We are raising a strong police camp, and the reinforcements will be arriving tomorrow. The police superintendent is taking all possible steps,” Jana said before leaving for Calcutta.

He is likely to meet the home secretary on Monday. The spot where the blast took place is about 20 km off the Tata-Ranchi highway.

The rocky and hilly terrain is very remote and explains why the district administration got to know of the incident so late.

A police patrol had a close shave yesterday when

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