Patna, Sept. 8: The People’s War Group and the Maoist Communist Centre today broke a fragile truce on sparing security forces by blowing up a vehicle, killing 12 people in Rohtas district.
Ten policemen were among those killed when a Tata 407 bus carrying them was thrown up in the air by an exploding landmine around 11.30 am at Dabua, 85 km from the district headquarters of Sasaram and over 160 km south-west of Patna.
The blast was so powerful that part of the potholed, concrete road sunk into a crater, witnesses said. “There was no way the victims could get a whiff of the danger ahead,” Sasaram superintendent of police Bachchu Singh Meena said.
According to the witnesses, the Naxalites had buried the landmine in a hole dug parallel to the left of the road. Concrete slabs were put back on top so that the road looked normal.
As soon as the burning vehicle landed back on ground, armed Naxalites hiding in the nearby forest reportedly fired in the air to scare away curious residents. They also snatched six police rifles from the spot.
The attack, ending a year-and-a-half-old truce, appeared to be the outfits’ revenge for last month’s killing of their comrades in East Singhbhum district. Ever since, the MCC and the PWG, which jointly executed the attack, had been threatening the police. “We will strike everywhere now. Here in Bihar, in Jharkhand and Bengal,” PWG spokesman Prakash had said in a release.
K.K. Bhatt, deputy inspector-general of police (Shahabad range) said at Sasaram that the Naxalites had managed to exact revenge in Kaimur range, a bastion of both outfits. The victims were Chutia police station officer in-charge Vijay Kumar Tudu, seven district police personnel, two Bihar Military Police jawans, a chowkidar and the civilian bus driver.
“Some (of the policemen) were going to collect their pay, others were on the way to get their week’s ration. Tudu was transferred from Chutia police station to Tilauthu police station near Dehri-on-Sone,” said Rituraj, DIG (provisions) and Bihar police spokesman.
According to residents, Tudu had got himself transferred as the PWG was threatening him for arresting one of the outfit’s commandants.
Today’s attack has struck a blow to the state police’s recent successes in its anti-Naxalite operations. Bihar home secretary B.K. Halder blamed lack of security personnel for the setback. “The Centre recently withdrew five companies of the CRPF which has caused a major handicap in the anti-Naxalite operation.”