The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Bridge rage heat on Samresh

Jan. 10: Questions are being raised about the role of science and technology minister Samresh Singh in yesterday’s attack on chief minister Babulal Marandi and Union minister Rita Verma at Narkera village near Bokaro.

Marandi and Verma ran into a fusillade of stones pelted by a mob of villagers soon after they landed in Narkera to lay the foundation stone for a bridge. The villagers were protesting against the construction of the bridge at Narkera, near Chandankyari in Chas sub-division, claiming that the district administration had promised them the same bridge 6 km away at Bhairav Sthan in Bhojudih.

Workers of the Jharkhand Vananchal Congress headed by Singh, who also represents Bokaro in the Assembly, were said to be in the forefront of the attack. The minister’s absence from the show was surprising because he makes it a point to attend all functions of the chief minister in Bokaro district.

Singh could not be contacted throughout the day despite repeated attempts.

Marandi did not speak on the incident today but dropped hints that action would be taken against those who led the attack. The state unit of the BJP has demanded a high-level inquiry. “Those who do not want development work to progress in Jharkhand are behind the attack. Stringent action should be taken against those found guilty,” a party communiqué released in Ranchi said.

Accusing fingers are now being pointed at Singh, who is said to have avenged his insult by the supporters of Verma at Chasnala on December 22. “The planned attack is being taken as the culmination of an ongoing tussle between them. Verma’s supporters had gone on the rampage and burnt the effigies of Singh at the Chas block office recently. Singh and his wife were not allowed to enter the office and were forced to leave the place,” sources said.

Narkera is a stronghold of Singh, but the villagers of Bhairav Sthan are supporters of firebrand Marxist Coordination Committee leader A.K. Roy. Sources said Verma had promised Narkera a bridge a few years ago. “Due to Singh’s support, Verma managed to get a huge number of votes in the parliamentary poll. But due to differences Singh took the foundation laying ceremony as a ploy of Verma to woo the villagers,” they added.

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