June 11: Maoist Communist Centre activists continued the assault on railway establishments, concentrating their muscle power on tracks on the second day of their 48-hour statewide bandh and exposing chinks in the utility behemoth’s security system.
Another message sent by the extremists, who called the strike reportedly to protest police atrocities in Jharkhand, was that their writ runs in Giridih district, where the bandh had the maximum impact.
Late last night, MCC squads vandalised and blasted Harubera railway station in Hazaribagh district, just two stops ahead of Barlanga station which was the target of attack the night before. Sources said a group of over 150 armed extremists stormed the station just before midnight and forced the staff to vacate the post.
On the rampage for nearly six hours, the rebels set on fire the station and the eastern cabin, reducing all furniture and documents to ashes. They also damaged the signal and telecom cables, cutting off communication links.
“They also blew up one metre of the track in a big explosion, the sound of which was heard in an almost 10-km radius. The extremists walked away in the morning, exploding bombs and firing in the air,” a source said. The police headquarters confirmed the incident, which hampered movement of all trains on the Barkakana-Muri section.
At Daniya station near Gomia in Bokaro district, extremists roughed up the railway staff.
The electric engine of a goods train was set ablaze at Bendi station in the Barkakana-Barwadih section late last night, disrupting movement of Hatia-Pathankot Express, Barwadih-Chopan Passenger, Palamu Express and Garhwa-Ranchi Intercity.
The Barkakana station master said the trains would be restored by late this evening while some trains have been re-routed through Chandrapura.
Hehegarha, Kumardih, Retchughuta and Chater section signals and telecom cable were also damaged while personnel of Daniya station were reportedly thrashed by the rebels, sources said.
Hazaribagh police superintendent Anurag Gupta said: “We had beefed up security arrangements on the highways, but the extremists, quite contrary to our expectations, targeted the railway.” Harubera has been a vulnerable station from where extremists had looted five RPF rifles in June 2001 while targeting Tata-Barkakana Passenger.
The impact of the bandh in Giridih was higher than yesterday with a curfew-like situation at the main bus stand. Not a single bus plied. The usually crowded court campus was deserted while all commercial and private vehicles stayed off the road.
Police officials admitted that the strike has been “most successful” this time. A source close to the MCC said: “We have proved our hold in the district. This is the message we wanted to send. No force was used. Yet people are with us in our battle against atrocities, capitalism and misuse of Pota (the anti-terrorism law).”