The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Police rebel hunt beyond borders

June 25: Inter-state borders will no longer come in the way of police pursuing Maoists, resolved senior officers of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand at a meeting at Patna on Monday.

Police of one state will now be free to chase rebels into another state, indicated officials after the meeting.

The four-hour meeting, on the eve of the two-day economic blockade call given by the CPI (Maoist) to protest economic policies of the government, briefed Bihar home secretary Afzal Amanullah, took stock of the Naxalite menace.

A “free border”, it was felt, is necessary to counter armed rebels, who often take advantage of inter-state borders to sneak into one state from another, when pursued.

States were put on high alert as suspected Maoists disrupted train movement in Bastar (Chhattisgarh) and exploded a powerful bomb at a railway station in north Bihar, damaging parts of the station building and injuring two people.

Maoists are likely to target goods trains and trucks, claimed officials, in addition to disrupting dispatch of coal and iron ore from the mines. Security personnel would find it difficult to intercept the rebels in hilly terrains and in dense forests, siad officials as they braced to meet the challenge.

Mehsi railway station in East Champaran, close to Muzaffarpur, witnessed an explosion very early on Monday morning when the bomb, strung from a bicycle, exploded. Suspected Maoists had attacked Howrah-bound Bagh Express last week and killed two GRP jawans.

At Ranchi, four passenger trains were cancelled as a precautionary measure. They include two Delhi-bound trains, Rajdhani Express and Jharkhand Swarnajayanti Express.

Ranchi-Varanasi Inter-City Express stands cancelled on Monday and Tuesday, said South Eastern Railway officials, and so is tomorrow’s Ranchi-bound train from Varanasi. Routes of several other trains have been diverted.

Apprehensive railway employees in Chhattisgarh submitted a memorandum requesting the stoppage of trains during night hours over the next two days on the Kirandul-Visakhapatnam section, in view of the blockade. Two dozen goods trains ferry iron ore every day from Dantewada in Chhattisgarh to Visakhapatnam port.

Additional security forces have been deployed in Bastar, which had been plunged into darkness after Maoists blew up three transmission towers earlier this month.

It took 11 days for power to get restored, forcing National Mineral Development Corporation and Essar Steel, to suspend their operation.

Officials kept their fingers crossed while increasing patrolling on railway tracks and highways. Additional gangmen have been pressed into service to keep a vigil over railway tracks and alert stations.

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