Ranchi, Sept. 30: A 24-hour statewide bandh called by Maoists today may have remained by and large peaceful, but coal loading operations and public transport were hit in most parts of Jharkhand.
The bandh, called to protest the killing of Maoist leader Ashish during an encounter with police in the Palkot area of Gumla district on September 11, however, did not impact the functioning of government offices, banks and post offices although attendance was thin as public transport was missing.
Train services were also not affected. "Everything is normal in my domain," said Ramgarh SP M. Tamilvanan. "All types of vehicles are plying on NH-33 and other highways too. We have deployed adequate forces for security. But, coal loading and transportation has been hit by the bandh," he confessed.
SPs of Khunti, Simdega, Gumla and Latehar districts also reported a similar picture in their districts that are known to harbour several Maoist pockets. "Very few buses and trucks plied the roads. Most shops in rural areas remained closed," said one police officer.
But in Lohardaga, SP Kartik claimed of the area <>had rejected the rebel bandh call. "All shops are open. Banks and post offices are functioning as usual," he said.
Ranchi Bus Owners' Association president Krishna Mohan Sharma admitted no buses plied in the Maoist hubs during the day, but assured people that long-distance buses would start running by the evening.
"Buses from various destinations reached here safely in the morning. But, not a single bus departed during the day. People had to face a lot of inconvenience. But, we are helpless," he pleaded.
Dhanbad SP of rail police Ashim Vikrant Minz, under whose watch are most of the vulnerable areas, maintained that no untoward incident had been reported till the evening. He said they were keeping watch on rail tracks and quick response teams had been deployed at strategic locations to deal with eventualities.
Senior divisional commercial manager of Ranchi railway division Niraj Kumar said that all passenger trains were running as per their schedule and that no train had been cancelled or diverted.
A senior police officer monitoring anti-Naxalite operations from the police headquarters, however, said that the last few hours till midnight tonight were crucial. "During bandhs, Maoists usually execute some of their subversive plans either at the very start or towards the end. Hence, we need to be very careful before their bandh ends at midnight," he said.