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Red fear keeps Koda on toes

Ranchi, Aug. 12: Reports of a posse of armed rebels present as civilians and a bomb hoax led chief minister Madhu Koda to beat a hasty retreat from a public meeting in Palamau today.

A huge gathering had assembled at a high school playground in the Tarashi village of Manatu block, when Koda landed there this morning.

He was to inaugurate a road linking the village with Sonepur and a bridge over Amanat river, and lay foundation of another bridge and road a few kilometres away.

Soon after landing at Manatu, he received a call from the police headquarters, which “prohibited” him from participating in the celebrations and asked him to take a “U-turn” immediately.

Intelligence reports received by Koda claimed that Naxalites had not only “planted powerful bombs beneath his dais, but were present in large numbers at the venue”. Suicide squads, too, were not ruled out.

District police chief Udayan Singh hurriedly announced that no one should approach the chief minister with garlands or bouquets or even touch his feet.

Koda was being accompanied by water resource minister Kamlesh Singh, rural development minister Anosh Ekka and Panki’s RJD MLA Videsh Singh.

While Kamlesh Singh and Videsh Singh reportedly insisted that the chief minister go ahead with the scheduled programme, the security personnel threatened to use “discretionary powers” to stop him.

Though Koda attended the inauguration and foundation-laying ceremonies, he was not allowed to join the loan mela and address a public meeting.

While Koda remained seated in the school building, Videsh Singh distributed the loans and addressed the public gathering on his behalf.

“I have already approved the immediate repair of Panki-Daltonganj road. All the new projects will be completed at the earliest possible. Large turnouts at my public meetings proved that people are happy with the functioning of my government. We are doing our best to fight Naxalism,” Koda said.

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