Bansgarh (Purulia), June 8: Fear of the unknown reigned supreme two days after a powerful explosion ripped villagers out of their early morning slumber in this remote region of Jhalda block.
In the absence of bomb squad experts, police are yet to determine whether Friday’s blast, set off by Maoist Communist Centre activists from across the Bengal-Jharkhand border just 2 km away, was from a landmine or some other battery-operated improvised explosive device.
Whatever the type of bomb, it was lethal. The explosion has left a crater 5 feet in diameter and 3-foot deep. Shrapnel were found 100 feet away. Four more holes for bombs had been dug in the same dirt road, frequented mainly by police patrols after a local landlord was beheaded and his property destroyed last November. The Maoist rebels were responsible for that attack, sending ripples of terror through an otherwise peaceful district.
“The activists intended to plant four more devices but apparently aborted when the first one went off,” said superintendent of police V.K. Goyal. “Wiring tracks leading from the holes 15 feet into the roadside were also found, suggesting that the bombs could have had electronic triggers operated manually by persons in hiding. We have no doubt the blasts were intended for the police patrols.”
Several hand-painted posters written in red letters were found pasted on tree trunks and flat surfaces of boulders off the road. The posters had messages in Hindi.
Slogans like “CPM Bangal sarkar murdabad” were also prominently written. Another message was a bit more terrifying: “Naxalbari ki lal aag Paschim Bangal mein jal raha hai, jalegi!” The posters were signed “Niwedak – MCCI”.
But for most of the villagers in the area, written words have no meaning because they can’t read. They heard only the boom.
“It was around 5.30 am. Some of us had already got up when there was a huge bang. It was as if my own chest had exploded,” recalled Durga Charan Hembrum of Korche village, a little over a kilometre from the blast site.
“We saw a cloud of smoke soon after.”
The fear prevails. “We are afraid of what more will happen. But what can we do, we have our land and homes here,” said Hari Majhi.