The mangled SUV trapped in the caved-in culvert on Tenughat-Lalpania highway, 75km from Bokaro city, on Thursday. (below) Railway workers fix the sleepers damaged in the blast near Dania station. Pictures by Pankaj Singh
Gomia (Bokaro), April 17: Two Maoist blasts, one on a state highway and another on railway tracks, separated by over five hours and 40km tarnished Giridih parliamentary constituency’s otherwise peaceful polling today.
While three CRPF personnel and a police driver were critically injured in an IED explosion and subsequent firing on the Tenughat-Lalpania road in Gomia, 75km from the Bokaro, passengers of Barkakana-Gomoh passenger had a close shave near Dania station, 85km from the steel town.
Railway traffic on the CIC section of Dhanbad division remained disrupted for seven hours.
Commanding officer of CRPF’s 159th battalion Birsa Oraon said the rebels ambushed them in the notorious Lugu Pahadi zone around 9.30am. He claimed a series of IEDs had been planted on the road, but they failed to trigger except one, which blew up the last SUV in the three-vehicle convoy.
“The impact of the blast was so severe that it made a culvert cave in 10ft. The Maoists then opened fire. We retaliated. Dozens of rounds were exchanged for over two hours before they fled,” Oraon said.
The injured — Pritam Singh (94th battalion) who took a bullet in the abdomen, B.C. Mandal and Surendra Kumar (GC Ranchi) and police driver Mohan Lal — were airlifted in an army chopper to Apollo Hospitals in Ranchi from Gomia’s Swang helipad. Bokaro SP Jitendra Singh and his team are conducting a search.
Earlier in the day, Maoists blew up 12 railway sleepers, damaging 360 metres of overhead electrical wires and bringing the Barkakana-Gomoh Passenger to an abrupt halt, barely 200 metres from the blast site near Dania. Sources said had the train had a diesel engine instead of an electrical one, the mishap would have been fatal.
Passenger Vijay Kumar Mahto, who was on his way to Gomoh, said a deafening sound woke them all up in the small hours of Thursday. “We later came to know that rebels had targeted tracks. Fortunately, our train halted several yards away,” he said.
Senior divisional operating manager Ved Prakash confirmed that the sleepers were blown up at 3.55am. “The Barkakana-Gomoh train had left Jogeshwarbihar station around 3.48am and was approaching Dania, when it was jolted to a halt,” he said.
The train was brought back to Jogeshwarbihar around 11.05am. “A railway team reached the site around 8.05am and repair work took three hours. Traffic normalised around 11.17am. Several goods trains were caught at various places. The Bhopal Express to Howrah remained stranded at Patratu for four hours,” the senior official added.