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Biking through rebel bastions

The villagers of Naxalite-hit Ghurabanda, Dumaria and Asti in Ghatshila subdivision had a rare visitor on Tuesday.

Powered by the NaMo wave, BJP candidate from Jamshedpur constituency Bidyut Baran Mahto vroomed into these remote hamlets on bikes with supporters and security guards in tow.

The JMM turncoat, who joined the BJP recently and managed to bag a ticket from the coveted seat, led a long line of over 120 bikes into the less-traversed red pockets through potholed kuccha roads, covering a distance of over 80km.

The trouble was worth taking as the villagers, constantly living under the shadow of rebels, welcomed him with open arms.

Mahto was similarly received in the tribal-dominated areas in Ghurabandha and Dumaria blocks, where he spent considerable time with the rural voters, lending an ear to their basic problems.

At Asti village in Dumaria, a tribal woman washed his feet with water and offered him a glass of water.

“We don’t have refrigerators. We can offer you the water we fetch from deep-boring,” said Sudarshan Majhi, a local resident.

Bidyut, on his part, rolled out the usual poll rhetoric while interacting with a section of villagers at Dumaria’s Bhitar Amda village, which had earned notoriety for massacre of seven Maoists in 2008.

“I have done everything possible for the development of my constituency as an MLA from Baharagora. If I am voted to the MP seat, I will ensure development of places that don’t have motorable roads, tapped water supply and proper education and healthcare facilities,” he said.

The BJP candidate had earlier refused to avail security cover on his poll campaigns. However, he chose to avail of it on Tuesday’s visits to the rebel-hit areas.

Sources in the police department said campaigning on motorcycles was safe because they were less vulnerable to landmines laid by rebels. “The BJP candidate was given security cover for his Tuesday’s visits. But, despite protective measures, one cannot be sure about Maoists plans. Travelling on bikes is far safer then moving in four-wheelers,” a police officer told The Telegraph on the condition of anonymity.