Stepping up their spree of violence, the Maoists triggered a landmine blast in Bihar that killed a member of a team engaged in the panchayat polls on Sunday and gunned down five people at a wedding ceremony in Jharkhand on Saturday night. Seven poll officials are suspected to have been abducted after the blast.
The landmine blast near Chhurchuriya village in southern Bihar’s Jamui district blew up a tractor carrying officials on election duty in the morning, killing its driver, Arun Mandal, and critically injuring a local teacher, said Bihar DGP Neelmani. The Maoists had called for a poll boycott and threatened the candidates, but the ninth phase of panchayat polls held in largely Maoist-affected areas on Sunday registered an average 62 per cent voting.
There was no trace of seven officials on poll duty since the blast as their mobile phones were switched off. Suspecting abduction by the Maoists, the police have begun conducting raids, said sources in the Bihar police headquarters in the evening.
In Jharkhand, a wedding ceremony turned bloody as suspected members of the outlawed CPI (Maoist) fired indiscriminately at Lomki village of Gumla district late on Saturday night. The bridegroom and four others, including two who had come from Punjab, were killed.
Police sources linked this incident to the ongoing rivalry between the CPI(Maoist) and the People’s Liberation Front of India (PLFI), another self-styled Maoist outfit operating across Jharkhand. The armed CPI(Maoist) members were reportedly looking for PLFI commander Mangal Nageshia, suspecting that he was attending the wedding ceremony.
The PLFI has called a 24-hour bandh in three Jharkhand districts — Gumla, Simdega and Lohardaga — since Sunday midnight to protest the murders. Fearing retaliatory violence from the PLFI, security forces have been deployed in the village.
The Maoists also burnt down 29 four-wheelers of a construction company engaged in widening of national highways in Jharkhand’s Hazaribagh on Saturday night and left two policemen injured in an exchange of fire. Ramakant Tiwary, SHO of Hazaribagh’s Mufassil police station, said this incident at Morangi village was executed by over 100 armed Maoists, including some women cadres. Asian Age