The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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MCC copies Bengal babus

Ranchi, July 18: The Maoist Communist Centre seems to be taking a leaf out of the book of Bengal’s bandh babus.

This impression is gaining ground with bandh calls being issued with monotonous regularity by the organisation, which is known to have several Bengalis among its leaders.

Mainstream Left parties appear worried as the bandhs are turning people away from communism. Secular forces fear that the bogey of Maoists is helping the BJP mobilise apolitical and secular people to their fold.

Bandhs have again become a topic of discussion after the MCC called a 48-hour Jharkhand bandh — on July 22 and 23 — to protest the death sentences and life imprisonments recently awarded to its cadre in the Beltu massacre. Jharkhand has already suffered seven days of bandhs in May and June, including two days called by the MCC to protest the same ruling.

The organisation says it fights for the downtrodden, but its bandhs hit daily wage earners the hardest.

A recent survey by the Federation of Jharkhand Chamber of Commerce and Industries shows that about 30,000 daily wage earners come to the state capital every day from the peripheral areas and earn enough to provide for the family’s meals. On bandh days, these people have no earning avenue.

Daily wage earners who work on buses, trucks and trekkers also earn nothing on a bandh day. Almost all commercial vehicles, like buses, trucks and trekkers keep off the state and national highways as any damage would not be reimbursed by insurance companies.

Chamber president Gulshan Lal Ajmani said a day’s bandh causes losses upwards of Rs 50 crore and it takes more than four days to get things back to normal. Chamber office bearers will meet tomorrow to decide whether to condemn the 48-hour bandh call or issue an appeal. “Our state cannot afford frequent bandhs at this stage,” he said.

These bandhs are also a setback to mining, causing huge losses to companies like Central Coalfields Limited and the state exchequer. Since May, the company has incurred an estimated loss of Rs 42 crore. The state has lost Rs 80 lakh in the form of cess and levy on coal alone because of the seven days of bandhs enforced by different outfits, according to the coalfields spokesman.

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