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CIMA Gallary

Speed drive in terror forest

Munger, Feb. 22: Motorists prefer to throw traffic regulations to the wind and press on the accelerator when they enter the 14-km stretch of Haveli Kharagpur-Jamui road passing through the inaccessible Ganta forest on the Munger-Jamui border post-sundown.

They are not worried about police penalising them for speeding, but are scared of robbers who target passing vehicles on this road.

“I spotted a few men by the roadside. They tried to stop our car. But I sped and we managed to get away,” said Vikas Kumar, a driver of a private vehicle, describing a narrow escape from robbers recently.

The owner of the car said: “I had some urgent work in Bhagalpur. I knew it was risky but we had to take the road through the forest around 8.30pm. Thank God, we escaped unhurt.”

Not all commuters are as lucky. On February 6, a commuter was killed and more than 22 others were injured when a jeep and three trucks on the 14-km-stretch fell into a ditch after colliding with a roadblock near Chorpulawa, Munger, 7km from Lakshmipur, Jamui. One of the criminals responsible for setting up the roadblock was also killed.

Residents of nearby villages claim that such incidents are common in the area. Criminals target the stretch between Chorpulawa and Kunda Asthan as the jurisdiction is disputed.

The Telegraph had reported the incident and the uncertainty of jurisdiction in its February 9, 2012, edition.

Senior police officers, however, claim that there should be no confusion over jurisdiction in the area.

Anil Kishore Yadav, deputy inspector-general of police, Munger range, earlier told The Telegraph: “Both the Lakshmipur and the Haveli Kharagpur police stations had earlier demarked their areas and put up their respective notice boards on the two sides of the road. Between the two boards, there was a stretch of nearly 1km. This was not under anyone’s jurisdiction. But two months ago, the area was put under Haveli Kharagpur police station’s jurisdiction.”

Despite his orders, however, criminal activities continue.

Sources said cops have tried to check the criminal activities in the area.

On February 18, the Haveli Kharagpur police picked up five suspects from the forest but after interrogation, they were released. Four other people were detained on February 21.

However, such crackdowns have had little effect.

A shopkeeper at Lakshmipur, Jamui, said: “Though senior police officers have asked the police to patrol the area, cops hardly enter the forest after dark. They are scared of Maoists who are active in the area.”

Haveli Kharagpur police station house officer Bishbandhu was not available for comment but an officer said the detained persons were being interrogated.

Senior cops preferred to remain mum on the issue.

A.K. Chanda, deputy superintendent of police, Haveli Kharagpur, said: “I am very busy with matriculation examination. I will comment on this later.”