Fear stalks Dantewada

Residents stay indoors following 48-hour bundh

Fear stalks Dantewada

Paramilitary soldiers guard the blast spot near the wreckage of a bus in Dantewada district, Chhattisgarh, on Tuesday. AP

The shutdown called by the outlawed Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) began a day after 35 people were killed when the guerrillas blasted a bus in Dantewada district amid fears of fresh attacks and crippled life in the Bastar region as well as parts of Rajnandgaon and the rural areas of Raipur and Dhamtari districts.

Traffic was also disrupted in Orissa, Bihar, West Bengal and Jharkhand where trains were diverted or cancelled and buses stayed off the road in many places as the Maoist strike to protest a government offensive against them came into effect.    
 
The top brass of Chhattisgarh visited Dantewada to instill confidence and commiserate with the victims of Monday’s massacre, but Chhattisgarh stayed fearful with security forces demoralised and people staying indoors as a 48-hour shutdown came into effect.

“In Bastar, an absolute terror-like situation is prevailing. The forces are hardly moving due to fears of Maoist attacks... they are feeling terrorised at their base camps,” said a senior official based in Jagdalpur in the Bastar region, the sprawling 40,000 sq km area comprising five districts.

A policeman posted within five kilometres from the blast site at Gadiras police station admitted that he and his colleagues were demoralised.
“Neither the state police nor paramilitary forces are ready with heart and mind to go after the Maoists in the thickly forested areas.”

Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh, Governor Shekhar Dutt, Home Minister Nankiram Kanwar and Director-General of Police Vishwa Ranjan visited Dantewada to condole the deaths and meet the injured.

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