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Rumour mills roll bandh call

Ranchi, May 19: A rumour is enough to enforce a state-wide bandh. And Maoists resorted to just that to paralyse businesses in important cities.

Several commuters in the state, particularly in Ranchi and Jamshedpur, were surprised to find vehicles off NH-33 apprehending a bandh call from extremists.

Ironically, the police remained a mute spectator and did not make any attempt to build confidence among the people.

Around 15 bandhs have been called in the past two months affecting several businesses.

“A little known organisation, Sashastra People’s Morcha of Chatra had called a state-wide bandh yesterday but had withdrawn it later. However, people did not want to take any ‘risk’ and thus stayed at home,” a police official at Chatra said.

Sources at Tamar supported the fact. “Rumours about the bandh call were doing the rounds this morning and people stayed at home. Vehicles did not ply on the Ranchi-Tata Road either,” an official of Tamar police station said.

People from across the state confirmed the fact and said most people learnt about the bandh through the media and become so terrified that they did not venture out of their homes despite there being a small group of bandh supporters.

“News about Maoist bandhs usually comes through local vernacular dailies where extremist outfits feed information,” said a police official.

Krishna Mohan Singh, the president of the Jharkhand Bus Owners’ Association, said instead of boosting the morale of the people the government itself is unable to control such bandh calls. “When a bandh is called, the railway department diverts train routes and through this the government passes a signal of defeat to bandh callers,” he added.

The police department has passed the blame on various forms of media and held them responsible for the success of bandh calls.

Ranchi’s senior superintendent of police M.S. Bhatia, admitted the problem but held the media responsible for the situation. “Those calling a bandh use the local electronic and print media to spread their message. If a check is put on the publication of such news, bandhs can never become successful,” he said.

State police spokesperson Raj Kumar Mallick shared a similar opinion and said people will never pay attention to extremist organisations if the media stopped highlighting them. “Actually, extremists and criminal organisations use a few select journalists and adversely affect our exercise of building confidence in people,” he explained.

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