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Bandh over, bluster on

Ranchi, July 23: The two-day Jharkhand bandh called by the banned Maoist Communist Centre came to an end at midnight with cries of victory from both sides.

The state government claimed to have foiled the bandh and pointed out that not a single “prominent” passenger train was cancelled during this period. But the bandh crippled road transport in the state, despite police providing armed escorts to convoys of trucks in several districts.

The banned outfit also drew blood when they killed a CRPF sub-inspector near Bundu on the Ranchi-Jamshedpur highway. The police reported at least nine different encounters during the bandh, but not a single extremist fell into the hands of the security forces.

Though the police claimed to have injured several extremists, no extremist could be arrested and no arms were recovered.

Heavy rains that lashed many parts of Jharkhand today came as a relief to both the warring parties. Barring an exchange of fire in Hazaribagh and another reported from Dhanbad, the day was relatively incident-free.

Hundreds of extremists, however, assembled near Kole station this morning and engaged a posse of policemen led by Hazaribagh superintendent of police Anurag Gupta in an exchange of fire.

The rebels retreated only after a gun-battle that continued at least for an hour. Neither side reported any casualty.

The previous evening, Gupta had a narrow escape as the pilot engine in which the police officer was travelling passed just seconds before the MCC triggered a blast on the track.

Today, the officer-in-charge of Piparwar police station had a narrow escape when MCC extremists fired at him. Both sides exchanged fire before the extremists retreated. Combing operations by the police yielded little and the men from all the villages disappeared, fearing police reprisal. The combing operations are generally abandoned before dusk by the police.

All public transport, buses and trekkers, stayed off the roads and national highways wore a deserted look. Police teams were deployed in sensitive areas, especially around the national park area in Hazaribagh, to check the activities of extremists.

The transportation of coal came to a halt in Tapin project, Kedla project, Kedla underground project, Jharkhand mining project and in Kedla washery of CCL, though production was not affected. On NH 33, police escorts were provided to trucks.

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