Landmine explosions on PCC (Portland Concrete Cement) road in Chhakarbandha forest under Sherghati sub-division in Gaya district on Sunday has set the alarm bells ringing at the state police headquarters.
One CRPF jawan was killed and 10 other security personnel were injured in a series of blasts carried out by the outlawed CPI(Maoist).
Sources in the police headquarters said the laying of landmines on the PCC road has unveiled an alleged nexus between the rebels and construction firms working in Maoist-hit areas. “We are looking into this aspect too,” a police officer associated with anti-Naxalite operation said.
Reports reaching the police headquarters said the Ma-oists had planted 85-90 landmines on Dumaria-Chhakarbandha road to target the security personnel. The senior police officer claimed so many landmines cannot be laid without the knowledge of the construction firms. He also suspected the explosives may have been planted in the final stages of road construction.
Only 50 landmines went off on Sunday, blowing up four vehicles, including one landmine-protected vehicle. “The construction work on the 22km stretch between Dumaria and Chhakarbandha via Magra has been pending for long,” said Sherghati sub-division police officer (SDPO) M.K. Basantry.
This is the second time that Maoists have triggered landmine blasts on PCC road in the Magadh region. On November 13, 2010, the rebels had carried out landmine explosions on Imamganj-Dumaria road near Sidhpur Thakthakarwa village. There was no report of any casualty in the blast.
Inspector-general (IG) (operations) Amit Kumar said the Maoists preferred to lay landmines beneath culverts or bridges to cause extensive damage. “The impact of the blast on PCC or metalled road is lesser than that on kuchcha road,” he said.
The Sherghati SDPO did not rule out possibility of mo-re explosions on metalled or PCC roads in Naxalite-affected areas. “The Maoists normally use cracks on the road to lay landmines,” he said.
Security forces avoid vehicles on kuchcha road as they are mover vulnerable to landmine blasts. The landmines on PCC road caught the securitymen off guard.
Sources said a metalled road between Servra and Barha village under Sherghati, being constructed under the supervision of a rural engineering organisation, was under the surveillance of intelligence agencies. “Though it is not humanly possible for security agencies to keep surveillance on all roads, some important roads used by the security personnel for anti-Naxalite operations can be put on the radar of the intelligence agencies at the time of construction,” the police officer said.
The IG (operations) said Sunday’s blasts were a well-planned operation in which a number of People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army had participated. “The way the Maoists started firing on the police soon after the blasts indicated that their number could be something between 70 and 80,” he added.
He said the Maoists had gathered in the forest to carry out a major operation in the area. “This cannot be a mere coincidence. Laying 85-90 landmines on the road shows their intensions,” Kumar said, adding that the operation against the Naxalites would continue.