Maoists unleash attacks in Jharkhand to avenge arrests

Maoist guerrillas first attacked Pirtand police station around 1 a.m. in Giridih district, some 210 km from here, District Superintendent of Police A.V. Homkar told reporters.

"A fierce gun battle ensued with the police, which lasted for about four hours. There were no casualties," he added.

The guerrillas escaped after the gun battle and then blasted the office of Jharkhand Vikas Morcha-Prajatantrik and a block office situated near the police station.

The Maoists called a 24-hour strike starting Wednesday midnight in South Chhota-Nagpur region to protest the arrest of their leaders - Mukhtar Ansari and Dasrath Manjhi  - in Giridih district Wednesday.

In another incident, Maoist rebels torched six trucks on the Grand Trunk road in Dhanbad district, 240 km from here.

The attack is the second one in a month's time in Giridih. The first was Aug 3, when a landmine was blasted in the Pirtand police station area, blowing up a vehicle and killing five people belonging to a private security agency.

The explosion left Sukhdev Ram, a sweeper of Pirtand block office, terrified.
Recounting the incident, Ram said: "The sound of a heavy thud broke my sleep around one in the morning. Initially, I thought that the transformer had blasted, but when I peeped out of my window, I witnessed something more sinister... There was a different scene outside," he narrated in fear.

But he refused to elaborate further, saying: "I have no clue to what happened and I went back to sleep."

Manjar Ali, the village head, who resides just behind Pirtand police station, woke up upon hearing a blast. "Soon after the blast, we heard guns being fired. We did not step out of our rooms," Manjar, a septuagenarian, said.

"The activists of the banned outfit triggered four blasts to blow up two buildings and fired 250 rounds targeting the police station. We retaliated by firing around 150 rounds," said office in-charge Satish Kumar.

The police station and block office are situated on the Giridih-Dumri Road. The attack lasted for almost an hour.

According to eye-witnesses, the Maoists were not targeting the police station but the block and political party office.

Pirtand, 25 km from the Giridih district headquarters, is a stronghold of the Maoists. It is also the oldest block of Giridih.

Keeping Pirtand as their base, Maoists have triggered violent acts from time to time in the interiors, but this is the first time that they have undertaken a major act on the main road and also targeted a police station.

The rebels also left leaflets at the site seeking an answer for the arrest of their associates and to stop Operation Green Hunt, the security operation against Maoists.
Giridih Superintendent of Police A.V. Homkar visited the spot and termed the Maoist attacks a retaliatory act for the arrest of their associates.

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