Ranchi, March 22: Suspected CPI(Maoist) rebels torched a bus in Karimati village in the Panki area of Palamau district, around 190km from the state capital, early today.
Passengers were, however, not harmed.
The private bus was on its way to Daltonganj town from Panki around 6.30am, when it was intercepted by over half a dozen armed men.
According to sources, the 30-odd passengers were asked to get off the bus before it was set on fire.
An eyewitness said that after the passengers left the bus with their luggage, diesel was drawn from the fuel tank to carry out the subversive mission.
The incident took place a few hours before Union home secretary R.K. Singh’s visit to Palamau. Singh toured the nondescript Chak area of Maoist-hit Manatu block, 100km from Panki and around 250km from Ranchi.
Senior officers at the police headquarters, however, refused to link the Maoist arson with the high-profile visit.
They claimed that preliminary reports suggested that the bus owner was a PLFI sympathiser and, hence, was targeted by the CPI(Maoist).
The PLFI is a breakaway faction of the bigger and banned rebel outfit.
Palamau SP A.T. Mathew too maintained it was the handiwork of Maoists.