An Ajsu supporter stops a vegetable vendor on Garga Bridge, which links Chas and Bokaro, during the statewide bandh on Sunday. Picture by Pankaj Singh
The statewide bandh called by Ajsu on Sunday to protest against the public murder of leader Tileshwar Sahu in Barhi on Saturday evoked mixed response, strong in Jharkhand pockets where he was popular.
In Hazaribagh, the closest town from the site of the murder, the bandh was a complete success as people stayed off roads and shops downed shutters. Ajsu workers paralysed vehicular movement on GT Road and Ranchi-Patna Highway (NH-33) by blocking strategic points. Worst hit was NH-33, blocked at points between Ramgarh and Koderma.
In Ranchi, traffic on NH-33 and NH-23 was severely hit.
Being a Sunday, most shops, offices and educational institutions remained closed. Though Ajsu members came out in large numbers to cripple traffic, an alert police force prevented major untoward incidents.
Sahu’s home district Gumla — he was a native there — mourned its slain son. Traffic on Gumla-Ranchi road (NH-23) was blocked and bandh supporters tried to force-shut shops and put up blockades at many places across the district.
“We removed them (blockades). Shops have gradually started opening, but Gumla-Ranchi road virtually wears a deserted look. No major untoward incident has taken place,” Gumla SP Bhimsen Tuti said.
The bandh also had considerable impact in Koderma and Dumka as Ajsu workers paralysed highway traffic. NH-33 links Barhi with Bahragora. Hence, Jharkhand’s road link to Bihar, Odisha, Bengal and Chhattisgarh were virtually snapped off.
“The situation is gradually become normal,” said Koderma SP Sangeeta Kumari.
In Dhanbad, Bokaro and Jamshedpur, response to Ajsu bandh was mixed.
Dhanbad witnessed total bandh of shops and commercial establishments, but road transport was only partially hit. Ajsu district president Mantu Mahto and supporters in large numbers blocked roads and roundabouts. Incidentally, senior leaders of JVM Santosh Mahto also sat on the road at Topchachi to block traffic.
The police arrested Mantu Mahto and 50 of his supporters around 1pm.
In Bokaro, the bandh call saw lukewarm response in the city but Ajsu supporters paralysed normal life in Central Coalfields Limited collieries.
Near Bokaro, bandh supporters launched road blockade at Bermo Chowk in the morning and prevented movement of coal-laden trucks.
In Jamshedpur, sporadic instances of Ajsu blockades continued in and around the city from 8.30am to 1pm, culminating in a two-hour roadblock at Mango.