Ranchi/Patna/Bhubaneswar, Dec 4: Maoists today began their two-day country-wide shutdown in protest against the killing of their top leader Kishenji by blowing up railway tracks in Jharkhand and setting afire a mobile tower in Bihar's Aurangabad district.
After lying low since July following the ‘Operation Monsoon' and ‘Operation Prahar', the ultras indulged in the violent acts just hours after attacking the convoy of Independent MP Inder Singh Namdhari yesterday.
Namdhari narrowly escaped the attack at Ladu More in Latehar district. The number of casualties in the attack rose to 11 today with one more policeman succumbing to his injuries. The toll included 10 policemen and an eight-year-old boy.
Two injured policemen were being treated in a hospital here, Inspector General of Police Rezi Dungdung said. On the first day of their ‘Bharat Bandh', armed Maoists triggered an IED in the early hours to blow up tracks between Gomia and Dumri railway stations of the East Central Railway in Bokaro district, SP Kuldip Diwedi said in Bokaro.
Another group of Naxals blasted tracks between Hehegara and Chhipadohar railway stations in Latehar district, Latehar SP B D Sharma said.
Police said the Naxals took away two SLR and eight Insas rifles, 900 rounds of bullets and a wireless set after launching the attack on Namdhari's escort car carrying police personnel.
Yesterday, DGP G S Rath had said two civilians, including the driver of the escort car, and eight policemen were killed. However, later it turned out that the driver of the car was a police department employee and not a civilian, Sharma said.
Elsewhere in the state, the bandh affected movement of long distance buses while loading and unloading work in mineral-rich areas were affected as trucks kept off the road for fear of coming under Maoist firing, police said.
In neighbouring Bihar, an armed group of them stormed into Suhi village in the Kutumba police station area and set on fire an Airtel mobile tower, police said.
Railway service in Aurangabad district was badly hit and several passenger trains running through the district were cancelled after Maoists blew tracks in neighbouring Jharkhand, they said.
Hundreds of passengers were stranded at Sone Nagar, Bagaha-Bishunpur, Korha, Bakri Salaiyya and Navinagar Road in the district since last night due to cancellation of several trains on this route, sources said.
The bandh, however, evoked a lukewarm response on the first day in Odisha where in some areas vehicular movement was disrupted and shops closed.
Road traffic was affected in several areas of Naxal-infested districts like Malkangiri, Rayagada, Gajapati, Sundargarh and Kandhamal.
Shops and business establishments remained closed in Kalimela, Motu, Padia and Chitrakonda areas of Malkangiri district, police said.
Maoists also destroyed a new high school hostel building in Malkangiri district in Odisha, the attack coinciding with the PLGA week being observed by the ultras which entered the third day today, they said.
Patrolling was intensified in vulnerable areas and borders with neighbouring states like Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal.
Later in the day, Jharkhand Chief Minister Arjun Munda in a statement termed the attack on Namdhari as unfortunate and asked the state home department to look into “what went wrong”.