Was Monday the first day of the 48-hour Maoist bandh or a prequel to the real thing?
Well, it depends on which Maoist leader you speak to.
The confusion notwithstanding, no major violent incidents were reported from the seven states on Monday — though the Maoists blew up a railway track in West Bengal.
The banned CPI (Maoist)’s eastern regional bureau, headed by politburo member Koteswar Rao alias Kishenji, said the shutdown would start on Tuesday (March 23) — the day freedom fighter Bhagat Singh was hanged nearly 70 years ago.
But the Maoists’ central regional bureau, jointly headed by politburo member Kathakam Sudershan alias Anand and the rebels’ Dandakaranya special zonal committee chief Gudsa Usendi, claim the shutdown started on Monday.
This was another instance of confusion in the Maoist ranks. Last week, the rebels gave conflicting versions of the whereabouts of Maoist leader Cherukuri Rajkumar alias Azad.
Early on Monday, the rebels triggered a blast on railway tracks near Valukkhania in Bengal’s West Midnapore district. The New Delhi-bound Garib Rath and Palamu Express were cancelled.Many long-distance buses did not ply in Jharkhand.
In Chhattisgarh, two encounters were reported between the CRPF personnel and the rebels, and five Maoists were arrested, officials said.
“The Bastar police arrested three Maoists after the encounter, and weapons were seized from them,” IGP, Bastar, Chhattisgarh, T.J. Longkumer, said.
(With inputs from Raipur and Ranchi)